ReJesus-ing the Church

One of the books I’ve been reading through is ReJesus: A Wild Messiah for a Missional Church by Michael Frost & Alan Hirsch (Hendrickson Publishing, 2009).  I thought I would share a couple of quotes from the fourth chapter “I’ve Got a Picture of Jesus”

“…the Gospel story makes clear that those who understood Jesus and his message the best were those who most wanted him dead.  He was considered a threat and a danger to the religious system of Judaism but presumably also to the impressionable masses.  …Jesus’ contemporaries saw him as a usurper of institutional religion, a blasphemer, a heretic, a drunkard, a glutton, and a false teacher.  He was an unschooled rabbi from the God-forsaken north who had run amok and begun to stir up trouble among the equally uneducated populace.  In his enemies minds he was an extremist, a radical, a revolutionary.”  (p. 101)

And why remembering this about Jesus is important:

“…we need to go back to the daring radical, strange, wonderful, inexplicable, unstoppable, marvelous, unsettling disturbing, caring, powerful God-man.  The communities around us are crying out for him.  They are turning up in droves to hear the Dalai Lama speak.  They are buying mountains of books on popular theology.  They are traipsing over sacred sites across the globe.  They are searching for the promised, the one who offers them restoration and peace.  The church needs to find itself in league with this Jesus, staring at him in amazement and saying, as Peter did, with a trembling voice, “What kind of man is this [cf. Mk 4.41]?”  (p. 111)

What are your thoughts, reactions?

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14 responses to “ReJesus-ing the Church

  1. It took St. Paul, after is dramatic and powerful conversion, 14 years in the desert, to hone an adequate vision of the Gospel and of the Lord. Most of us are spending 14 years in an activity, but it is watching television, surfing the internet, or texting. Lord have mercy.

    Our Lord’s radical relationship to money, sex and power are encapsulated in the Ascetic Ideal of the New Testament and in the Early Church
    This article by Georges Florovsky is dynamite.

    http://www.romanity.org/htm/flo.01.en.the_ascetic_ideal_and_the_new_testament.01.htm

  2. Ben,

    Thanks for the link. I live two blocks from a Starbucks which I love to frequent, it is a place where I not only can meet people but I can also ponder how God is wanting to intersect into the lives of those who frequent Starbucks.

    Grace and peace,

    Rex

  3. For the most part…the American evangelical church has reduced the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ down to a few spiritual laws you must know and a superstitious prayer asking Jesus to come into their hearts. And to top it off….we have “boy” preachers telling them that they are saved. All across America we have church building filled with goats.

    It takes more power of God to raise one dead sinner to life than all the power of God in creation. We need to believe that… then, we do not have to depend on human manipulation. What ever happened to the doctrine of “regeneration”???

  4. Ike,

    Thanks for stopping by the blog and leaving a comment. Yes Christians in North America have for the most part reduced the gospel to a few doctrines which, even if correct, seem to be pretty meaningless apart from discipleship (living, thinking, acting…as Jesus did on earth). I don’t believe authentic discipleship can be persued by Christian without the power of God given through the Holy Spirit. However, I believe the big issue at hand (or at least that which Frost and Hirsch have in mind) is the idea that somehow Christians can be the church that God wants them to be apart from following Jesus…and instead following a set of doctrines. While doctrine is important and there may be certain doctrine that have lapsed and are in need of restoration, until Jesus is restored as the pattern of life for the church then Christianity in North America will contine becoming more and more impotent as a missional movent of the gospel (the purpose for which it has been called).

    Grace and peace,

    Rex

    • I agree with you…however, I don’t think we can separate discipleship from salvation. When Jesus called people to be His disciples in the gospel, He was calling them to salvation. Therefore a true Christian is a disciple (or follower) of Jesus. The church in North America is not only confused about doctrine, but what it actually means to be a Christian.

  5. I agree that discipleship cannot be separated from salvation, unfortunately though the two have been separated among much of Christianity in North America. Christian all claim their salvation in Christ by the doctrine they have adhered too but somehow that *justification by grace through faith* doesn’t mean a continued life of discipleship even though in the very book of Romans where the doctrine of justication is developed, the Apostle Paul twice declares the faith God has in mind as obedient faith or “the obedience of faith” (Rom 1.5; 16.26, NRSV) meaning there is no faith without obedience. Whether Christians agree on all the minute details of how we believe scripture to teach of God bringing about salvation…we can proclaim all day long that Jesus is Lord and we have salvation in him but if we do not live as though he is Lord, no one is going to believe us. Thus our salvation cannot be separated from discipleship.

    Also interesting and notewothy that in John 14.18-22… This passage is set in a context stressing obedience by adhering to Jesus’ command to love as he has loved (13.34-35) which was demonstrated by Jesus washing his disciples feet (13.1-20) and will later be demonstrated by Jesus’ laying down of his life. But in this small section of John 14.18-22, Judas (not Iscariot), in response to Jesus telling his diciples of his nearing departure from them, ask Jesus why he does not show himself (his identity as Son of God) to others. Jesus simply responds by calling his disciples back to obedience. BUt has that lesson fallen on deaf ears? Many Christians today think we need more apologetic arguments (e.g., ontological, teleological, & comoslogical) to the existance of God, the divinity of Jesus and his resurrection, etc… Don’t get me wrong, I am all for offering such apologetic reasons for faith when someone has a philosophical barrier to faith but much of the world believes in an all-powerful g/God who can accomplish miraculous feats such as a resurrection. The reason why more and more people don’t believe what Christians claim is because they see too many stark incongruences between what is preached and what is lived. We need to hear the call to discipleship – faith that yields obedience – once again.

    Well, thanks for the dialogue! Grace nad peace!

    Rex

  6. Great quotes. I think that too often the picture that people have of Jesus is either being dead on a cross or as a harmless little baby. Jesus is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords!

  7. Great thoughts. My only contention is with the idea of Jesus being a “usurper of institutional religion.” While the religious leaders may have understood him as such because he challenged what they had turned it into, I don’t think there is good evidence to believe Jesus decried institutional religion as a whole. He encouraged payment of the temple tax, worshipped there, etc. Of course, one of the reasons people speak past each other on this issue is that they are working from different definitions of both “institution” and “religion.”

    • Andy,

      I think you make a valid point. One thing I always tell churches is that we may not like some of the expressions we have become as a church and we should seek correction. However, no matter what corrections are embraced, we will always be a church made up of *people* (jars of clay) that God still can use to carry out his mission. Even if the contemporary church sheds its institutionalism and religiousity, we will still be jar clays.

      Grace and peace,

      Rex

  8. Not famliar with this book, but you have created interest in it for me.

    Am really enjoying your comments on Jay Guin’s blog right now on Just War. I really appreciate the width and depth of your study and scholarship.

    Warren

  9. I whole-heartedly agree. Growing up in the church, I felt that God was always emphasized, but Jesus, not as much. Only as an adult have I began to grow closer to Him. I wonder if we’re afraid of Him.

    • Paula,

      Thanks for stopping by the blog and commenting.

      One thing I have observed as a Christian who is both a member of the church and a preacher of the church is that when it comes to the life of Jesus, many Christians unintentionally want to separate his humanity and divinity. When it comes to the ministry of Jesus, he is regarded as divine and therefore he is somehow not at risk when it comes to such things as healing by touch a leper who could infect a human-being with leprosy (and this was an excuse I heard by a Christian for not wanting to visit an AIDS patient dying in a hospital. On the other hand, in Jesus death and resurrection he is regarded as human because it is hard for us to fathom that somehow God is hanging and dying upon a cross.

      Nevertheless, if we are true to scripture and orthodox theology, we cannot separate Jesus’ humanity and divinity. In both his ministry and his passion, Jesus was both a human exposed to all the perils of a dying world and God restoring redemptive life to the dead. That is truly a mystery to be in awe of and praise God for!

      Grace and peace,

      Rex

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