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We Look More Like the Church BC than AD

We Look More Like the Church BC than AD

Part 1 of 2

Why did Jesus come when He did?  Theories abound, but the state of the Church was likely, at least in part, behind God’s timing.  Religious practices and teachings had gotten far off course, fueled by impure motives and metrics – and leading to cynicism among non-believers and an improper understanding of God among believers.  Jesus came to blow up those misconceptions and set the record straight – about who God is and what He expects of His followers.  Jesus reserved His harshest words and greatest indignation for the religious establishment.

We live AD but “church as we know it” has largely reverted to BC principles.  It was intended to operate much differently than it did before Christ, but on close (biblical) examination it appears we have partially repaired the veil Jesus tore and rebuilt the temple Jesus said would be knocked down.

Consider what Scripture says about issues with churches and religious leaders in Jesus’ day, who had become…

1.   …Distant 

A “4 walls” mentality with people treated as “customers” to attract and retain rather than as the embodiment of “church” to disciple and deploy.

BC  Church positioned as an institution formed an unintended wedge between God and man (both churchgoers and those on the outside looking in):

  • You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to. (Matthew 23:13)
  • When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” (Matthew 9:11)

AD  Jesus went out to where people were, bridging the gap formed by “religion” to demonstrate His love (e.g. healing and feeding) before telling them who He was:

  • At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. (Matthew 27:51)
  • And he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. (Luke 9:2)

2.   …Expensive 

Emphasis on budgets and giving to keep the institutional church machine running.

BC  Significant dollars were required to operate the Old Testament church:

  • To that place you must go; there bring your burnt offerings and sacrifices, your tithes and special gifts, what you have vowed to give and your freewill offerings, and the firstborn of your herds and flocks.  (Deuteronomy 12:5-6)
  • I give to the Levites all the tithes in Israel as their inheritance in return for the work they do while serving at the tent of meeting.  (Numbers 18:21)

AD  Flattened hierarchy frees up more giving to be directed toward fellow Christians inside and outside that church (e.g. the persecuted):

  • All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had.  (Acts 4:32)
  • Now about the collection for the Lord’s people:…when I arrive, I will give letters of introduction to the men you approve and send them with your gift to Jerusalem.  (1 Corinthians 16:1,3)

3.   …Internally-Focused

Not following the Lord’s commands to be compassionate and generous.

BC  Religious leaders rarely gave to help the poor:

  • But you say that if anyone declares that what might have been used to help their father or mother is Corban (that is, devoted to God).  (Mark 7:11)
  • When you have finished setting aside a tenth of all your produce in the third year, the year of the tithe, you shall give it to the Levite, the foreigner, the fatherless and the widow, so that they may eat in your towns and be satisfied.  (Deuteronomy 26:12)

AD  The critical importance of compassion was strongly reemphasized, with Jesus as the model (yet only around 1% of the average church’s budget today is invested back in the community – whereas the Church for 1900 years was the food bank and homeless shelter, and started most hospitals and schools):

  • For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in.  (Matthew 25:35)
  • Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress.  (James 1:27)

Our next blog post will unveil the final four ways that churches in America today look and operate more like the Church BC than AD.

It’s Your Turn

We’ll explore more of these principles in the following post, but if this assessment holds water so far and our churches don’t reflect the radical shift Jesus advocated away from BC principles, how does the Lord feel about the current state of the American Church?  Does this make you think differently about changes your church should make to become what Jesus intended?


9 Responses

  1. Beloved brother Jim, thanks so much for this wrote up. This has been a huge burden for a while now and everytime I bring it up, many just look at me as if I’m from another dimension. May the Lord help us see the light and get back on track. Expecting 2of2. More Grace.

  2. I am in agreement with you on so many levels. I have been pursuing a return to the freedom Christ Jesus gave us in terms of the organized physical church (temple). Some folks agree until they find out it requires they have to actually FOLLOW JESUS in thought and deed.

    I hear preachers / pastors tell established Christians, “If you can’t GO, then GIVE”. Well, that’s about as un-biblical as it comes.

    We don’t have to literally go to Samaria, Judea or the uttermost parts of the earth. Just go next door or down the street or be ready AS YOU GO, in season and out of season, to give a reason for your Hope.

    And, we don’t chose between GOING and GIVING. Christians do both.

    Rant, rant, rant.

    I am retired from / out of full-time 501(c)3 ministry as a paid professional. I practice what Jesus commanded as best I can. I am an evangelist and a pastor without a pulpit. I go to a church building which is incorporated as a church with a full staff – and all the BC things you describe are in play, albeit with great intentions.

    And I have many friends there, and they are wonderful people. But the prevailing attitude and practice is “If you can’t go, then give”. And few EVER preach or teach the Gospel or ‘share their faith’ (whatever that means).

    So, what do you suggest? Do we continue to do as He says and understand that the workers a just going to be ‘few’?

    I am all ears.

    Thank you for your response.

    1. Sounds like the Lord is speaking to you about His Church the same way He’s speaking to me – and many others. After working with thousands of churches and seeing these issues within far too many, my (biblical) conclusions are that the root cause for how we got off track is twofold: 1) a lack of discipleship within our churches, and 2) the American church’s “decision” decades ago to separate compassion from evangelism. Both of those factors cause and reflect a lack of understanding of who Jesus is, His commands, His example/model, and His expectations of His followers. I’ve written some eBooks on these topics on that you may find helpful. Thanks for your comments, Michael.

  3. This is good. I definitely see evidence of this in the greater body of Christ around me. Another area that I recognize it in which you made reference to in your comment above is in regard to God’s mission to make Jesus known among all people’s. I help to coordinate Perspectives on the World Christian movement courses in our community and we’re seeing good fruit from it. I know in my own life, taking the course jolted me out of la la land and has given me a greater urgency and desire to be on mission with the Lord.
    It is sad to see how the fear of man and/ or fear of losing people/finances paralysis pastors from doing what they know they should be doing to lead their congregations in freedom.
    Holy Spirit open our eyes and wake up the church in America in Jesus name!

    1. That’s a great point, Rebecca. In fact, after unveiling the final 4 reasons churches look more like the Church BC than AD in the next blog post, we were planning to invest a couple posts exploring the urgency of evangelism. So glad you brought up that topic because it’s another way that we’re not reflecting Jesus’ model for His Church.

  4. Great message brother. As the late Senate Chaplain Dr. Richard Halverson said, “In the beginning the church was a fellowship of men and women centering on the living Christ. Then the church moved to Greece where it became a philosophy. Then it moved to Rome where it became an institution. Next, it moved to Europe, where it became a culture. And, finally, it moved to America where it became an enterprise.”
    We are not In the business of being a business. We are in the business of expanding the kingdom of God by reaching the lost. And if you look around in America today the church is dying. And before our mega church friends pat themselves on the back I’d be very concerned with a seeker friendly message that allows for a sinner to sit comfortably listening every Sunday and in fact enjoys coming back.
    “The fact the world can so easily tolerate us, the fact of the almost complete absence of reproach, let alone of persecution is itself a shameful testimony that we are so like the world that we cannot be distinguished from it.”
    Art Katz

  5. There are currently 164 dedicated temples in the world. Another 14 or under construction, and additional 31 planned. There are almost 80,000 unpaid missionaries serving for two years of their life dedicated to spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ. Jesus fulfilled the law of Moses, thus rendering match from Leviticus Deuteronomy and numbers no longer applicable. No one is to make money for spreading the word of God. Jesus told the disciples, no money in the money belt. The Christian church and as many branches and understandings of the gospel began when the last apostle died. The Christian church was left with no Authority to see to the proper operation of Christianity.

  6. Mormonism is not the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is “another gospel” exactly the kind of belief system that the apostle Paul warned about in the book of Galatians.

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