Structure – Wash MY Feet

I was just reading NakedPastor’s blog (someone I admire) and he is relaying his thoughts on being a Pastor – a tough role to say the least. Can’t be vulnerable apparently – which led me to write a blog – if for no other reason but to relate problems in the church as I see them these days.

The structure is the sole problem and that’s it. Church structure exists as it’s own public relations rep and that’s the skinny of it. If you dare go against it – you will find yourself a social outcast at best – at worst ‘de-listed’ (see Kevin Annett’s story for more on this).

I have looked into the problems with this structure for years now – and this whole thing smells like a god-damn business (non-profit) to me. The structure is genuinely more concerned about its ‘image’ than it is concerned with your well being. Ever take a step back to regurgitate what they are feeding you for teachings? Ever read the doctrinal statements they make these poor officers of the church believe in order to be your leaders? That’s right – if you ‘believe correctly’ you are part of the faith and if not ‘you are a non-believer going to hell’. So fall in line – the line where people follow more hoax than reality.

Ever notice they ‘pass the hat’ during music? Check the psychology on that – you’d be very interested. Pastors play dad to a congregation that is afraid to deal with ‘real life’. Worship is some warped form of musicianry that lends itself better to the ‘pied piper’ than what worship really is. All the while they keep in strict doctrinal codes of ethics so as to not lose ‘one of you’ – meanwhile they are losing their mind trying to swallow the same pill they feed you. And none of this leads to better value systems then when you walked in the door – most of it comes from personal study if your being honest.

No pastor makes you a better person. No form of music makes you a worse person. No amount of money given builds some stairway to heaven. No amount of nice words makes the pain go away. No amount of faked stardom will lift you up. No cold structure that takes a saint’s prestige will give you a name either. It just ain’t thurr.

Good things happen because you chose that. Lives get repaired because you choose that. Repentance only gets ‘spice’ because you are person enough to approach your wrongs and deal with them – no matter how dirty it gets. Truth only has a meaning because you live it out – not because you can repeat it. These things happen because YOU got involved and meant what you were doing – and that’s the recipe.

Where’s God in all this? Not in some ‘image’ being portrayed as God’s bride – that image fails you more than you want to believe. But if you want the Asherah pole – have at er – but my Jesus walked a hard road to a cross – and meant every last tear he cried. No faking it here – no self-righteousness here – no ‘names to be made’ here – no twisting of the teachings for gain. There is nothing here – just a road someone travelled a long time ago who wanted to see true human success – and died for it. And maybe that is success – losing it all to gain perspective (goodbye structure and your beautiful caresses).

Have I said something I wasn’t supposed to? If you feel this way – then think about who’s feet your washing here for a minute? I don’t mind being a servant – to YOU – but not to something that cannot even speak. Bring me your feet.

“I think God has left the Museum for good’ (Scared – The Tragically Hip)

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13 thoughts on “Structure – Wash MY Feet

  1. I like to go barefooted a lot so my feet get kind of dirty but they don’t smell as bad as the feet of persons who wear wool socks and tightly laced leather boots. I am generally transparent. That is also what I crave for in Christian fellowship, transparency and a genuine love for Jesus and honestly, it is very hard to find. When I do find that kind of fellowship it is seldom within a prescribed building, at a prescribed time, with people who think in lock-step. Those things belong to just another human institution while fellowship around Jesus is church. I’m sad to say that I still attend an institution fairly regularly but indreasingly, I don’t find church there. Even when I go out of some prescribed duty, I am not being faithful Christ, I have become another unfaithful member of an unfaithful bride. I don’t know if God has left what has become a strange kind of museum but I do think that the church has in large part locked Him out. There seems to be little interest in Jesus and a living relationship with God. There seems to be much interest in watering Jesus down to philosophy, human choice, a way to improve the community for good but no real faith in He Who walked on water, healed the sick, fed the multitude with a few fish and loaves of bread, and shed His own blood for the gain of others. It seems that no one cares any more for evangelisling, the work that Christ commanded that we do but church membership is a priority and if faith in Christ alone is just too strong of a statement, then by all means, play it down, we don’t want to offend. It is acceptable to hold Jesus in abstract thought but to have a faith in Him that is real and palpable is well, you know, mental illness. By and large, we’ve become too sophisticated for Jesus and the institution called church is spiritually blind and naked and is soon to be trampled underfoot by the world for whom she has sold everything to please.

    However, God is sovereign, Jason and all is going according to His plan. God’s plan was hard on Jesus why should we expect any different? We are to walk as He walked and this is the state of things during our time. Every day, the only real choice we have is whom we will serve and that choice is an attitude of the heart and not a choice that is directive. The directive choices belong completely to God. God has appointed it all and all we really get to decide is if we are with Him or agin’ Him.:-/

    Pam

  2. Hi Jason,

    Sounds like you are passionate, as always. I have some questions.

    First, are you saying the problem is the current structure in the church, or are you saying the problem is that there is a structure?

    You seem to start out pretty general saying, “Church stucture exists as it’s own public relations rep…” but then you also seem to appeal to building, “better value systems”, which sounds like structure to me. Are these value systems, “strict doctrinal codes”?

    Maybe your stream-of-consciousness style depicts a person wrestling with this issue (in which case it would make sense to look at it one way and then the other), but it sounds like you are very confident that you know exactly what these guys are doing wrong.

    Some clarification about what you are saying would help. Perhaps it would play well into your next post?

  3. Read your post again.

    I don’t think its fair to accuse them of being greedy for money just because they play music during the offering. It kind of sounds like you are making up rules for them to obey.

    And how do you know their worship music is a way to get more money? You don’t!

    I can’t tell if you are dismissing the importance of doctrine altogether or just their doctrine.
    In any case, Jesus taught that believing in him will determine one’s eternal resting place.

    “He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” John 3:18

    The Bible says following sound doctrine is important:

    “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires,”
    2 Tim 4:3

    So, again, believing the doctrine of Christ’s free gift is very important and the church is right to insist on it. If I was a leader in a church and someone wanted to shut me up about that doctrine, I would shut him out of my church.

  4. Okay time to enter the discussion as soundly as I can – thanks to all the discussors so far.

    “However, God is sovereign, Jason and all is going according to His plan. God’s plan was hard on Jesus why should we expect any different?” (Pam)

    The 2nd part I can easily agree with – but the 1st part is one of perspective. How sure are you this is all being done according to God’s plan even if it is all done in God’s name? God knows I can name score-ful of incidents of things done in Jesus’ name which do not match up with Jesus’ teachings…is that also God’s will? Even God’s will is mentioned by Jesus fairly straight-forward in matthew 7:15-23 – even in that incident people use God’s name to cover their actions – Jesus states plainly ‘I never knew you’. How come we as humans in this structure have to bare with ‘things Jesus does not even accept’?

    Or maybe in this wise is wiser ‘Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven” (Matt 6:10). I see no seperation of our responsibility from ‘doing the will of God’ while here.

    “are you saying the problem is the current structure in the church, or are you saying the problem is that there is a structure?” (BB)

    I am sure structure is not bad – but the current structure of the church we have is not genuine either – and lacks true community in a lot of areas.

    “Are these value systems, “strict doctrinal codes”?” (BB)

    Yes – that’s part of the structural problem I see.

    “but it sounds like you are very confident that you know exactly what these guys are doing wrong.” (BB)

    I would say the system is the problem – and whoever backs it may be either ignorant of a wider knowledge of what ‘could be’ instead of ‘what is’. In my blof alone I have mentioned a variety of isses ranging from doctrines for your pastors to the church as a business…I see a lot of holes.

    “I don’t think its fair to accuse them of being greedy for money just because they play music during the offering.” (BB)

    I never said they were greedy cause of the music portion of the service – it’s just theme music while we give.

    “It kind of sounds like you are making up rules for them to obey.” (BB)

    I could care less if they follow rules I set down – I am merely not going to be quiet about the ones they set down. I am having an even tougher time finding where my voice is worth less then theirs – if that were so – Luther would never of had a reformation of principles in his day.

    “Jesus taught that believing in him will determine one’s eternal resting place.” (BB)

    I’ll take Jesus’ own words ‘how does it read to you’? I think we have come to a point in time where we are looking at the word ‘believe’ and are missing the whole depth of the very word ‘believe’.

    Believing in Jesus as the son of God does what for you exactly? I mean you tell me what that one belief does specifically for you? Truth is – nothing. Even if it is true – it does as much for you as believing Bush is the president of the USA (it just is). Where the rubber meets the road is in what they ‘teach’. If you tell me you believe in Jesus but hate a certain race – I would be confused to the Nth degree – since Jesus taught no such thing. Same thing if someone says they believe in Jesus and they beat their wife to keep her obedient – I would be wildly confused. Do you see the connection between ‘believing in’ Jesus and following ‘his teachings’? If not – I can write a blog on it.

    “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires,” 2 Tim 4:3

    I respect that teaching of Paul also and still make a lot of the criticisms I do – actually it can be easily said – because of scriptures like that I see a need to point out a lot of things doctrinally wrong in the church. Define sound doctrine? Define ‘their own desires’? I can state 100% assuredly I am not doing this because I want my ‘ears tickled’ – frankly – that’s why I see the need for this.

    “believing the doctrine of Christ’s free gift is very important and the church is right to insist on it. If I was a leader in a church and someone wanted to shut me up about that doctrine, I would shut him out of my church.” (BB)

    I gave nothing to say bad about Christ in one single iota – like you – he is my teacher/rabbi – the person’s leading I follow. Problem is the way ‘we read Christ’ (ie: interpret a lot of the things he said). If he is the atoner – then that is that – if he is okay with church structure existing to defend it’s right to exist (for the sake of tradition over and above the needs of humanity) – well that’s a whole new bag of beans.

    Also the church is no one’s – not yours to control or to run anyone out of – it is Christ’s. It is open to discussion on these issues and if it is not – then I can see the control of power in a structure that is too narrow minded to even discuss issues. Is that ‘who the sets son sets free – is free indeed’ (or is that freedom to life controlled by someone else also after Jesus?). I am not saying we don’t need direction – we do – but if that is true individually – then this has to be true for the church in general also – since it is developed by humans (also in need of direction). If this direction is lacked – it will become stagnant – which we see now in our day (this falling away as some would say).

  5. Hi Jason,

    All the problems you state are the reason I believe in Christ alone and belief in Jesus was THE pivotal moment in my life. At that moment, I came alive to God and was forever changed. The teachings followed but I met the person, Jesus Christ first and because of Him the teachings became important.

    We do make choices every day and suffer the consequences but no matter how many dumb or even diabolical choices we or anyone else make, our choices are not the directive ones. God’s choices are directive and things are under His ultimate control even when we can’t see how and they will be brought to His ultimate conclusion.

    As far as church goes, I long for something much simpler like the Bible and a few serious believers in my living room.

    Pam

  6. Jason,

    I hear ya man! Way to go!

    I have kind of watched over the past year or so as you have gone from wanting to just see a few changes in the church to expressing the need for a complete overhaul. Yes, the church needs a complete overhaul and we who recognize it must speak out. The church has become a place of many words and very little action, a breeding grounds for hypocrisy.

    The only thing that keeps me from running in to these services and screaming my head off is that I know it would do no good. Actually, no amount of tact will help either as the leaders of the church are stuck in a system that is their bread and butter so they will not listen. So all I can do for now is write about what I feel is right and encourage others like yourself to do the same.

    Go get’em bro! No amount of hypocrisy is tolerable. You either walk the walk or you talk yourself to hell. I fear that multitudes of today’s pastors will be judged severely by the one they claim to believe in and follow.

  7. Hi Jason,

    I’m sorry if it seemed to you like I was questioning your relationship with Jesus, I really wasn’t.

    It seemed like you were suggesting doctrine was not something we needed to be committed to, and I wanted to say that there are doctrines in the Bible that one must accept to be a believer.

    Along the same lines I was not accusing you of ‘scratching the ears of others’ but merely to show that sound doctrine is a good thing according to the Bible.

    A blog post on how truth must be related to in order to be truth would probably do us all some good. But consider this: Paul was thankful the gospel was being preached even when it was out of a desire for money and a good name. Was he saying hypocrisy is acceptable to God? No way, but that at least others would get an opportunity to hear how they could relate to the truth. My point was merely that the Bible does place emphasis on sticking to good doctrine.

    Along those lines, it also advocates the excommunication (when necessary) of people who preach bad doctrine and advocate living in open sin. The first example that comes to my mind is the man in 1 Corinthians who takes his father’s wife. Paul says to expel such a man.

    It is interesting when you say the Church does not belong to me such that I should drive anyone out of it. In the book of Revelation Jesus personally thanks a church for expelling certain people. I definitely I believe this is a last resort, but definitely advocated by the writers of the NT. Also, check out Matthew 18 about what Jesus says about those who will not listen to the Church (again, I’m not implying that is you).

  8. Thanks Pam, Ken, and Burning Bush for all the comments – and support it seems – I am thankful for the comments and for the depth of discussion that can occur.

    “As far as church goes, I long for something much simpler like the Bible and a few serious believers in my living room.” (Pam)

    But ‘wouldn’t it be nice’ if all the churches became a tad more sincere and places of true community and friendship – that is what I look forward to.

    “Actually, no amount of tact will help either as the leaders of the church are stuck in a system that is their bread and butter so they will not listen.” (Ken)

    It’s the ideology of Capitalism slipping into the church and making it absolutely useless. Pastors cannot speak out – they are handcuffed by the fact this is ‘their paid employment’. The system breeds power control (or at least problems in this area) and the struggle between the classes is renewed on a smaller scale in each congregation.

    People may not understand this as of yet – but the ideas within Capitalism and it’s version of success – are both replacing the very words that came out of Jesus’ mouth and making a new image for the person we call Lord. I have to admit – I have some serious problems with a Capitalist faith.

    “I’m sorry if it seemed to you like I was questioning your relationship with Jesus, I really wasn’t” (BB)

    That’s cool BB, I knew you weren’t and even if you were – I am open to dialogue on that.

    “I wanted to say that there are doctrines in the Bible that one must accept to be a believer.” (BB)

    I think I agree with you here – if the doctrine’s are ‘love God and love your neighbor’ – and not about the theological purity of the idea of a ‘trinity’. I think we have to accept Jesus’ teachings to be a ‘follower/believer’ of his – more or less. The theological wranglings of who is what is not as important as what we do with the lives we have before us.

    “My point was merely that the Bible does place emphasis on sticking to good doctrine.” (BB)

    I agree.

    “Jesus personally thanks a church for expelling certain people.” (BB)

    I know this is one for discussion on – as to the how and what of prodecure. I have seen this Matthew 18 passage be used in ways that have resulted in more anger than actual repentance. I don’t like the idea of ex-communicating someone at all – but I am open to the idea of looking at it in more depth.

    Don’t worry – I am not offended.

  9. Yes, I would like it very much if churches got their focus back on Jesus Christ.:0) It almost seems though that we have to start over…but God can do anything and if He intervened and corrected the church while keeping it in its institutionalized form, I wouldn’t complain.

    Pam

  10. **- if the doctrine’s are ‘love God and love your neighbor’ – and not about the theological purity of the idea of a ‘trinity’.**

    In terms of doctrines, I think it comes down to a doctrine of action verses a doctrine of belief. No, this is not earning one’s way to heaven, but one can hold all the “correct” doctrines and be a horrid person. It’s very easy to say that one loves everyone or God. It’s much more difficult to live that out, day to day.

  11. That’s very true,heather. The faith is to be lived and if it isn’t lived it is dead. However, I think we probably need a balance of knowledge and action. If the second isn’t guided by the first then we also fall into error. Also, the Bible is sound doctrine and we need to go to it directly for knowledge not to dogma.

    Pam

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