Thursday, March 8, 2012

Christianity, the Body of Christ, and Judgment

Tonight I met and talked with a homeless man. He was homeless by choice, he claimed. I saw him before and after I went to the gym to workout. I didn't want to talk to him. I even started driving off. I rationalized it by pointing out I didn't feel guilty for not helping him. And I didn't. But I did feel guilty because the Spirit was telling me to talk to him, and I wasn't. For that, I turned the car around and went back.

What followed was a 30 minute discussion about all sorts of things, mostly spiritual. He claimed he was a former Muslim who had been saved. But he became angry as he spoke about churches. He didn't like all the "condemnation and judgment." I can't blame him. I don't like it either! However, he has clearly miscalculated. He has taken this desire to avoid "being a Pharisee" and turned it into a "Lone Worshipper."

Now it is true that if you were to be locked up this very moment in a dungeon in a third-world country for the rest of your life, God could minister to you there. But in normal circumstances, God created people to be in relationships with other people, and the local body of Christ is there for that very reason! He did not realize that by stepping away from churches altogether, he has engaged in the very sort of condemnation he hates. He has judged in the very sort of way he hates. Churches are not filled with perfect people. Some churches are far worse than others. But Jesus Christ died for the church (cf. Ephesians 5:25), and this idea has both corporate and local shades to it.

When one divorces himself from the life of the church, he is handicapping himself in his spiritual life. Oddly, I found his physical predicament a metaphor for his spiritual life. He was hanging on, making it from day to day, and doing it his own way. But he was not doing too well. His life was marked by loneliness, which is exactly what happens when one becomes bitter at the church, cutting himself off from the body so beloved by our Lord. May we all take caution from this encounter.
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