Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Resisting Institution -- Acts 15

It is so true that whenever two or more are gathered there is conflict. God had begun to move in a new way among people who had thought to have been outside of God's chosen people. The Gentiles were experiencing the fullness of faith. Now some folks who champion the way we have always done it wanted to make sure the new believers and Gentiles went through the proper hoops and loops to show their belonging to Christ. However these were no simple hoops and loops, it was the act of circumcision.

This was a crucial moment for the young church. In this moment the choice between becoming an institution and remaining a movement was at hand. Rather than focusing on preservation of what has been the decision is made to allow God to move and not place human burdens on people God might not be imposing. While years later the church would not be able to resist the pull and ossification of institution, in this moment the movement was preserved.

All too often the church then and now makes decisions based on preservation. Unfortunately it is often to preserve the wrong things. We must always preserve the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We must always preserve the life which Jesus taught us. The resistance should come when we begin to preserve the church for the sake of the institution rather than for the sake of Jesus Christ. When a church exists to simple preserve its livelihood, death has already occurred. Sure there might people people gathering for activities, but the movement of Jesus Christ has died in that place. All that remains in a human effort to keep the institution running.

The early church resisted becoming an institution. Since then many times over there resistance has been absent. Once again we are faced with the choice. What will we choose?

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