Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Unorganized Jesus

from “Church, Take Up Your Mats” --

The truth is that Jesus didn’t have much patience for organized religion. He spent most of his time walking around, meeting people face to face. He had a few donors but no annual operating budget. He brought with him a volunteer group of disciples, but had no paid administrative staff. The numbers of followers ebbed and flowed, growing to the thousands on good days, but on his last, only a couple of faithful women were anywhere to be found.

Kent comments:

I understand that churches can and have sometimes become institutions for their own sake.  This would, of course, be a problem.  In spite of that, there is a serious – and too often glibly repeated – mistake here.  The mere fact that Jesus did something does not necessarily prove that we should do exactly the same thing, the famous novel In His Steps notwithstanding.

During His time on earth, the church as such did not yet exist.  Jesus mentioned it in a “coming soon” way.  So many things connected to an organized congregation could not yet exist, and Jesus could not participate in them directly or even comment much on them in a meaningful way.

So what does that say about how a church should be organized, whether to have donors, budgets, paid staff, etc.?  Absolutely nothin’ – say it again!  Did Jesus have any ‘patience for organized religion’?  At some point, His Apostles would give directions for how His church should be organized, at least in outline form.  So the comment about Jesus and ‘organized religion’ seems to be just so much bluster rather than a well-considered conclusion.

When people, including Christians, do anything together, some degree of organization is unavoidable.  So, unless this writer is advocating that Christians never do anything together on behalf of Jesus, this whole idea is rather meaningless.

It is cool to be anti-institutional these days.  I suppose it makes Jesus seem cool to portray Him as anti-institutional also.  I have a bit of leaning in that direction myself.  But let’s not be silly about it.

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