To sum up part 1 of this post from last week (See “Should Christians Attend Church? Part I”), I do not believe attending a large building once a week is mandatory for followers of Christ. We as a body are the church, not any building, and I find that small groups and house churches more closely resemble the New Testament church than do the monolithic structures we commonly refer to as the Western “church”. From a financial standpoint then, if the church then is not a particular congregation but rather the body at large, what becomes of the tithe?
Archives for September 2011
Regular readers know that I rarely write time-sensitive pieces, but today I must make an exception. A situation has been developing in the horn of Africa that requires action from those of us who claim to be followers of Jesus. With a severe famine plaguing the land, over 13 million people face dire food shortages. Making matters worse, food prices have been dramatically rising, making it impossible for these impoverished people to be able to purchase what they can no longer grow. World Vision estimates that 35% of all children in the area are already malnourished. Crops and livestock have been wiped out. Disease is running rampant. These dear people, loved by God and worth infinitely much to Him, need our assistance immediately.
Our modern churches look very different from the early church in the New Testament. This is particularly true in the West. In America, our landscapes are dotted with mega-churches on sprawling plots of land where thousands of people gather to worship freely each week. Contrast this with the house churches in Asia where believers gather in small spaces under cover of the night in fear of torture and imprisonment if caught. The Asian churches much more closely resemble the early New Testament churches in virtually every way. With that in mind, does that make attending the safe, luxurious churches in America wrong for the follower of Jesus?
Summer is drawing to a close and another autumn and winter will soon be among us. Time passes rapidly as we hurry about our ever quickening pace of life in a society bent on demanding more and more from each of us. Technological “progress” inundates us with calls, emails, texts, tweets and Facebook updates that all clamor for our attention. The noise of life has become deafening, driving many to frustration and despair. Those of us who are a little older long for the simpler times of our youth, while the younger generation knows little of peace and tranquility. Amidst all the chaos, the call of Christ remains the same and our responsibility to serve and follow Him does not change.
Following Jesus in an authentic Biblical way brings us face to face with some of the toughest questions in life. When we choose to abandon what Christianity has come to represent and instead follow Jesus with all of our heart at any cost, we will find ourselves walking a very lonely path. It is far easier to say a simple prayer and attend church an hour each week than it is to forsake everything you have and pursue Christ with relentless passion. Being a follower of Jesus will rarely gain you popularity, wealth or respect. Jesus warned us that we will be despised by our own families, persecuted and even killed (Matthew 10:16-26; Matthew 24:9). For those of us in the West, these can seem to be extreme and foreign concepts. Meanwhile, every day in countries around the world, people are ripped from their homes, tortured and put into prisons with squalid living conditions for the rest of their lives. These people understand what it means to give everything for Jesus.