the weblog of Alan Knox

Name it and Claim it

Posted by on Nov 24, 2008 in discipleship | 23 comments

Not long ago, a friend of mine was asked to preach for his church. Our family decided to meet with his church in order to encourage him and to meet some of the people in his church. Our friend did a great job teaching Scripture and challenging the church toward obedience. I was disappointed that very few people talked to us. I met the pastor and one or two other people, but that’s all. But, I know that it’s a friendly church. It says so on their bulletin.

A few weeks ago, I was talking with a student about the missional church. He had been reading about missional and asked me what I thought. For the most part, I simply listened as he explained how important he thought it was for the church to be active in its community, sharing the love of Christ in deed and in word. I asked him how he and his family were serving their community. He explained that he did not have time to do anything right now, but that he had decided that he was missional.

I remember talking with one of my more reformed friends recently about the sovereignty of God. My friend was convinced that God was in control and that everything happened according to his plans. My friend even suggested that the church should stress the sovereignty of God more – in singing, in preaching, in praying… all the time. He then told me that he was very worried about his work situation. He thought he might be laid off, and he didn’t know how he would be able to take care of his family.

I had an interesting discussion recently with someone who believes in “closed communion”. According to this belief, only people who are part of a specific local church should take the Lord’s Supper with that local church. I asked him why and he said that we should know the people with whom we take communion so that we can confront them if they are living in unrepentant sin. I asked him if he knew everyone that was part of his megachurch.

We often think that if we give ourselves a label, then that label accurately describes who we really are. In fact, the way we live demonstrates who we really are – and whose we really are – better than any label.

If we do not warmly greet people and try to get to know them, then we are not “friendly”. If we are not actively serving the people around us, then we are not “missional”. If we become anxious over everything that happens to us, then we don’t really believe that God is sovereign. If we gladly take the Lord’s Supper with thousands of people, then we are not really for closed communion.

If we do not truly demonstrate the love and grace of God to others, then we do not really believe that God is loving and gracious. We can wear any kind of label that we want, but that label means nothing unless our life demonstrates it.


23 Comments

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  1. 11-24-2008

    And the only sin I thought I was free of was “name it and claim it”. Boy was I wrong.

  2. 11-24-2008

    I have found this kind of “disconnect” is indeed prevelant. What I don’t yet understand is: why? How did we get this way? Greek dualism ( and compartmentalization)? An emphasis on statement of beliefs rather than lifestyle? Any ideas? I’m curious what you and other readers think has caused/is causing this kind of disconnect.

  3. 11-24-2008

    Great post, Alan …

  4. 11-24-2008

    Alan,
    Now I know where they learned it. Too many Aussies attending conferences in USA!

    Your hypothetical/real situations are typical, and inevitable, when people sitting in pews are taught to perform like circus animals, or, to respond to their “masters” direction like brainwashed cult members.

    When the voice they hear is assumed to be what the Holy Spirit, and is only the vocalising of the ruminations and imaginations of a mere man, regurgitating the thoughts of countless others, such experiences are inevitable.

    Only when people are taught to be students of the Scriptures, taught to understand and think about the context in which they were written, think about what those words meant to the people to whom they were written, or spoken, and hear the “voice” of the Holy Spirit applying what they learn in their own lives, will the experience be different.

    Disciple makers making disciples of their peers (not their subjects), who become disciple makers, who, in turn make disciples.

  5. 11-24-2008

    Hal,

    I’m just as guilty.

    Sarah,

    Those are good questions. I think its pobably a mixture of all those things and probably a few others as well.

    Heather,

    Thank you.

    Aussie John,

    I always enjoy and learn from your comments. Please keep them coming.

    -Alan

  6. 11-24-2008

    The comment about the reformed guy struck a chord. I know of many a “reformed” pastor who prays constantly for the offering plate, church finances, numbers in Sunday school, etc. It is hard sometimes for even the most staunch reformed believers to get past worrying about stuff that God has fully under control.

  7. 11-24-2008

    Arthur,

    Do you think there is a poblem with that kind of disconnect, where someone says they believe one thing (even labelling themselves based on that belief), but then living in a completely different way?

    -Alan

  8. 11-25-2008

    Alan:

    Sorry I’m late to the conversation, but you have described what happens when we improperly divide the words “faith” and “faithfulness” in our walk.

    Keith

  9. 11-25-2008

    Keith,

    You’re not too late. You bring up a good point. I’ve heard many people make a distinction between “the faith” and practical faith or faithfulness. I’m not convinced that this distinction is valid.

    -Alan

  10. 11-25-2008

    I was alerted to this post through a Google alert to me. It’s a beautiful, gentle reminder of our tendency to label and also I think the possibility of our labelling to point to some perceived gap in our own practice. Thanks for the thought.

  11. 11-25-2008

    Alan:

    Our Jewish roots did not see the sharp distinction between “faith” as a mental ascent and “faithfulness” as our walk. I would have to agree with them. Ultimately, how do we separate our actions and beliefs? In some ways this gets to the roots of a lot of our problems.

    Keith

  12. 11-25-2008

    Alan, absolutely. I worry that many people espouse reformed theology because the cool kids do and haven’t really thought out the implications all the way. I fall into the reformed camp but I try not to lord it over people and I am really working to apply it in the way I live, the way I teach and the way I pray not just the confession I subscribe to.

  13. 11-25-2008

    Adrian,

    Thanks for the comment and the kind words. I think we should always be on the lookout for and concerned about gaps between what we profess and how we live. It took me a long time to figure that out, however.

    Keith,

    I agree that the distinction is a huge problem. I also agree that we cannot separate belief and practice. We do what we actually believe.

    Arthur,

    I like that way you approach your theology – giving grace to others and attempting to living it out yourself. I think we can all learn from that. How does living out a reformed theology look, practically speaking?

    -Alan

  14. 11-27-2008

    Alan,

    I have been thinking about this post on labels for days. I do not understand the label “missional.” I understand what the term means – I just don’t understand why it is necessary! I think it is a shame to Christians that we have to have such a title for those who are deliberate about sharing the Gospel! It is too bad that the label “Christian” cannot convey that!

    Bethany

  15. 11-27-2008

    Bethany,

    The term “missional” usually refers to more than sharing the gospel. It also includes doing works of service and mercy towards those in need.

    But, you’re absolutely right. All believers (regardless of label) should be missional, be friendly, trust in God’s sovereignty, and have intimate relationships with other believers. (By the way, all of these descriptions were used in my post.) The point is that giving ourselves a label does not make it so.

    -Alan

  16. 11-29-2008

    ah…I have to laugh… but this is not happy laugh…

  17. 11-29-2008

    Natasa,

    Thanks for the comment! As I keep asking, its good to be sad about this (as I am), but what are we going to do about it?

    -Alan

  18. 12-1-2008

    A good new perspective on name it and claim it. We are all guilty of do as I say not as I do at some point. Rather than talk, we should just do it. That is what Jesus wants from us.

  19. 12-1-2008

    Andy,

    Yes, we should live what we say we believe. We should also be honest. If we don’t live something, then we shouldn’t claim to believe it.

    -Alan

  20. 8-9-2011

    Read your thoughts with great interest. I have been very troubled of late by the number of leaders from many camps who take the time they’ve been blessed with to speak out against other ministries. I believe we’re living in a time where we all should be lifting up Jesus and his love for man and let the Holy Spirit do the heart checking and directing. He has only called us to love and not to judge! Could we proceed on with the HUGE task at hand of, “Love One Another and Go and Tell?”

  21. 8-9-2011

    Don,

    I’m all for loving one another and going and telling, as long as we do it in reality and not in name only.

    By the way, which “other ministries” have I spoken out against?

    -Alan

  22. 8-9-2011

    A lot of this boils down to the lack of overall integrity that we as humans have. Especially westerners who are “knowledge” based and not “action” based. In the church, we say things like “Worship extends to every part of your life, it is not just the singing part of the service” and then we say “lets enter into worship” while the worship leader leads the worship team in the worship. It is incongruous and demonstrates that we don’t fully “know” in the Jesus sense, that what we “know” in the head sense.

    We even say, “do as I say, not as I do” recognizing that this is a general problem. Its not limited to the church. But perhaps in the church we expect a greater degree of integrity.

    I believe this is why we don’t make disciples as well. We don’t demonstrate and live out things worth being a disciple of.

  23. 8-2-2012

    “If we do not warmly greet people and try to get to know them, then we are not “friendly”. If we are not actively serving the people around us, then we are not “missional”. If we become anxious over everything that happens to us, then we don’t really believe that God is sovereign. If we gladly take the Lord’s Supper with thousands of people, then we are not really for closed communion.”

    Pow. That paragraph is gonna leave a mark.