I have had my fair share of negative experiences in the church, but this book is not about my disillusionment or my dissatisfaction with the church or any particular local church, for that sort of book would assume that I am the center of all things. I do have to ask the question, though. How does Scripture inform the way that we think about ecclesiology? This book is not a robust theology, but rather a call to genuine Christ-centeredness in the local church. As I wrote this book and went through the process of editing I realized the scope is even much broader than the Christian religion. There is an idea present here that I believe all religious and self-proclaimed irreligious people ought to discover: God is bigger and His existence is more basic than the religion that we have built. He is not confined by it and He does not subscribe to it. He is God and all things are subject to Him.
Admittedly, every local church (or Mosque or Monastery or Temple or Religion) claims to be a God-centered, truth-teaching and believing organization. Can we know which churches, organizations or religions truly are? Is there a difference between the church and the churchish?
Over the last year-and-a-half, my heart has grieved over this topic. The answers presented themselves in a place we would not expect: the Old Testament, namely the Pentateuch and Joshua (the first six books). For Jews, this is the Torah and for Muslims, they are the Books of Moses. As I labored in study, I found that a great majority of local church bodies (or religious systems for that matter), according to my own experience and observation, did not have basic, biblical foundations and were not concerned with the purpose that God has had from the foundation of the world for His people. As we travel back in time together from the comfort of our couches or from our desks, with the purpose of discovering God’s designed purpose and plan for His church (and every local church or religion that would be bold enough to bear His name), let us be open to God’s conviction and His encouragement from the most fundamental texts in this discrete world; though admittedly, God’s eternal nature demands that every text inspired by Him be equally as fundamental and unfading, perhaps as fundamental as the very creation in which is was inspired and that we also attempt to read and understand.
The story, though, is too familiar. You visit a church and everyone is nice, but no one seems to truly care. The people wear masks of righteousness only to, after you have committed yourself, remove those masks to reveal the face of a horrid witch-like creature. Or, perhaps, a different mask is worn: a mask that looks beautiful so that it hides the fact that the people are not worshipping or teaching about a real god; only some god who is created by human hands from tradition or from the popular religious myths of our day or a day in the distant past. We wonder why people who claim to love Jesus and believe that He is sovereign worry so much or spend so much time condemning their leaders instead of treating them as brothers or sisters in Christ. We likewise wonder why leaders who claim to follow Jesus (or perhaps any other religious figure, though my presupposition is that Jesus is God) grow so stagnant and prideful in their own faith as if they could produce what faith they have. Masks. Why do churches do so much, but pray so little? Activity can be a mask. There is so much outreach, but so little evangelism and discipleship. Numbers themselves become a mask for those who are not following Jesus and trusting Him with the results. People dress up and pretend to be perfect while neglecting what the Gospel truly means for all of God’s people: I was lost, but now I am found. If I stray, Christ will find me again. By our gossip and slander, we hope to draw people’s attention away from our insufficiencies, but it is our insufficiencies that cause us to need Jesus. By wearing masks, we defeat the very purpose of the mask; for when we hide our sin, we also hold onto it.
In this prelude, I feel the need to offer a brief warning (so I hope you have not skipped these few pages). Do not read this book if you do not desire to be brought to your knees. If you want to continue to feel like the saint you claim to be, stop here and use this book to prop up your furniture or fill a space on your bookshelf where all of your other books sit so you can appear to be intelligent. I didn’t write this book so you would feel good. My hope is to expose God’s word in such a way that you are brought to your knees because God has revealed Himself as holy and the one who has all glory. If you choose to read, I implore you to skip section two if you want to continue to feel okay about your own religion. Section two is certainly not for the faint of heart.
So I ask, what is a genuine local church? What is the danger of the churchish? Why should I burn my mask and expose my cross?
“If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will save it. What is a man benefited if he gains the whole world, yet loses or forfeits himself? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His glory and that of the Father and the holy angels”
(Jesus, Luke 9:23-26).
Release Date: Soon!
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