Two years ago, I wrote a post called “Hypothetical Situation… what do you think?” I think this “hypothetical situation” reveals some major weaknesses in the way that many understand the church. And, by the way, you probably won’t have to read very long before you recognize that this isn’t actually a hypothetical situation. It is based on a real (and true) story.
Suppose that you and some friends were traveling through a foreign city. While you were there, you met a group a people who invited you to a religious ceremony. You go with them.
At this ceremony, you realize that these people believe in God, but they do not know about Jesus Christ. At the end of the ceremony, the leader gives anyone a chance to talk. You find the courage to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with the people gathered.
Some of the people are very interested. As you leave the ceremony, they follow you and ask you more about Jesus. In fact, they encourage you to stay with them for the next several days and continuously ask you about Jesus, your beliefs, your lifestyle, etc. Many people confess their desire to follow Jesus.
The people are amazed at the way you interact with your friends, with them, and with the other people in the city. They ask you about your lifestyle, and you explain that the gospel not simply a message to be believed, but it is a life to be lived.
The religious leaders invite you back to their next ceremony. Once again you are given the opportunity to speak, but this time the leaders are ready with some questions and concerns. You explain as well as you can, and after the ceremony a few others ask if they can learn more as well. Again, many confess their desire to follow Jesus.
Others who are not religious begin to show interest, and some of them confess their desire to follow Jesus. It seems like everywhere you go in the city, people are talking about your group and about Jesus.
By the next week, when you have once again been invited to the religious ceremony, the atmosphere has changed. The religious leaders are angry and begin to threaten you and those who have began to follow Christ because of you. You are not given the chance to defend yourself or the others at this meeting, and the new believers become concerned.
That night, after the ceremony, the new believers convince you that it would be best for you and for them if you and your friends left that night. You agree, so you pack up your belongings and drive away.
As you are driving away, and as you think about what had happened over the last few weeks, you begin to think about that little band of disciples back in the city.
So… here are my questions for you, my readers: 1) What things do you think are most important that you would have taught them over the last few weeks? 2) What concerns would you have about this group of disciples? 3) Would you consider this group a church? Why or why not? 4) Do you think you left them with everything they need after only a few weeks? 5) If so, how could this be enough? 6) If not, what is missing?
(By the way, this “hypothetical situation” is based on a true story.)