One Friday night when I was 18, a friend and I left to do one of those college visits, the ones to see if you want to spend huge sums of money on over four years, and most likely the twenty years following also. I had a soccer game that night, so we embarked on our, what I thought was a 5 hour drive, around 9 or 10 or so at night. For the record, I think we got there around 4 in the morning, maybe 5?
The interesting part of the night happened sometime west of Indianapolis, which is where I fell asleep on I-70. I can’t tell you where I feel asleep, but I remember exactly where I woke up; it was in a little downtown area, with a green light above, and I was driving 50 in a 25 down the middle of the turn lane. I was a little frightened…I had no idea where I was! I looked to see if my friend was still sleeping, which of course he was since he wasn’t asking me hundreds of questions or freaking out because I was sleeping. I want to take a moment to apologize to John if this is the first he’s heard of this, “Sorry Dude.” Anyway, I subtlety followed signs back to my route and continued on our way, in which I may had lied about following a detour when he finally did wake up shortly after… maybe?
At that moment and many times now, I felt very assured that I experienced an act of the Almighty, that It intervened with by creating a way by Its hand or Word. With the many deaths on public roads each year, there is no doubt that we should’ve been added to that toll in 1995. But somehow we got off an interstate, followed a business loop, and returned to a state highway, which was our planned route, alive while I slept. At least, that is my best guess; we could have toured the US as far as I know, because I don’t have any real clue. But I surely attribute my life being sustained to the Almighty and the $20 I threw in to the tithe plate the Sunday earlier.
So, there is no doubt in my mind that experience matters in things like faith. So, this week, when I saw a video posted from a well-known leader in the Christian community discuss building “churches” and restricting the idea to “only using God’s Word” (which he held up a Bible in the video) I rolled my eyes. I’d like to say that I want to like this fellow, and I want to see the good in his teachings and in his ideas of the Almighty. I just don’t, because I feel that I’ve been let down time and time again by him and his teachings. So I really just watch to see what I disagree with, which is of course, is most everything.
I have no problems with using God’s Word to organize, situate, and study from for our lives, but I think we have to remember that it is bigger than the Bible. The Bible with its Law, teachings, instructions, and great wisdom provides a great understanding of humanity and the Almighty, but relying simply on that for the infrastructure can be very limiting.
In the Beginning, the Almighty created with Its Word, and everything that is created is by Its Word. Therefore I am, at least in a small or physical sense, Its Word, and you are also. Just as creation can show the Almighty’s majesty, the Bible doesn’t tell us how the tree is sustained or what its functions are. I also think that building “churches” simply based off of what the Bible says is narrow, though it may be a fine place to start.
But I also think that “church” today is already based off the Bible. Many who believe in the Messiah orient their lives around His teachings and therefore we have our “churches” today. It is in the options that were not specifically mentioned that has been formed into what it is today. It’s a product of people, translation or understanding of the Bible, and our lives and culture. Surely mega churches believe they are doing “church” the Almighty’s way, as well as those who serve the poor, don’t use musical instruments, preach from a certain translation, etc. etc. etc.
All these ways and ideas of doing “church” come from humanity, and I think to ignore that and say that “we are going back to God’s Word to learn and do church” is naïve. I kind of think it’s pious and that it ignores the vastness of God’s Word that has been provided to us by the Almighty, so we can learn to live in community with the Almighty.
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