A few months ago I was in a conversation wherein I asked/challenged my companion, "What if we just simply gave people the Bible and community and stopped trying to make up rules that aren't to be found anywhere in Scripture"
To which he (to my horror) replied: "Because the Bible would give them too much freedom."
I'm sorry but it as this point that my hackles raise. There are many things that have been said about what the church should do but among that list I have NEVER heard non-attenders/former-believers/critics/the spiritually curious say:
1. I would go to church if only there were more rules.
2. Why can't they just play some more hymns?!... (or music I don't recognize)
3. Pews are my preferred furniture.
Truly shocking is the proclivity of many "Christians" to follow the example of the early Pharisee believers who wanted to circumsize Gentiles (non-Jewish) Christians and demand that they follow the Law of Moses. In Acts 15, Peter (one of Jesus' top 3 followers) says this:
"So why are you now trying to out-god God, loading these new believers down with rules that crushed our ancestors and crushed us, too? Don't we believe that we are saved because the Master Jesus amazingly and out of sheer generosity moved to save us just as he did those from beyond our nation? So what are we arguing about?"
But new believers did need guidelines so later on in Acts 15 Peter, the apostles, and early leaders write a letter giving instructions:
1. Don't be involved with idols
2. Don't served food (such as blood) that is offensive to Jewish believers
3. Guard the morality of sex and marriage
Honestly, that seems like a strange set of rules to me but there is method to it and it has nothing to do with "do's and don'ts" to get to God. These are guidelines set to protect and stimulate the community humanity has with God and each other within the church.
Later Paul (NT author) writes to the church in Corinth and tells them that among people who claim to be Christians you have to hold them to this standard found in Acts 15 but as for outsiders/non-believers we withhold judgment since they haven't signed on board yet. (Scripture here).
Allow me to reiterate this point: it is NOT the church's place to judge the world. It's not our job. Stop doing it. How is it helpful to point out the obvious? Yes, the Bible does discuss specific behavioral patterns that are and are not "godly" but these make about as much sense to a non-believer or brand-new believer as you being informed that you are in violation of an Islamic-based law in the Middle-East. Do you care about that? Oh, well, they don't care either.
So over the next weeks we are going to reapply the guidelines in Acts 15 to the de-churched and un-churched of today's world. Our list looks like this:
1. Sex and dating
2. Things and money
3. Music, beer, and food
Hope you can follow along. We will also be posting talks to iTunes under Crux KC Online.
Remember, Christ told us to judge as we wanted to be judged. I, for one, would like a SUPER-lenient hearing.