Thursday, June 14, 2012 | By: Zachary Bartels

Out of Sardis (part 2)

Here’s an excerpt from another post at my second blog, Out of Sardis. This will likely be the last post from over there that I link over here, so please consider liking/ subscribing/ following/ whatever that blog as well. I've disabled comments on this post to encourage comments over there.

To view the whole post, click the graphic below:

I will be the first to admit that my default assumption is this: Jesus would do things the way I think they should be done—the way I do them. And I know I'm not alone here. This is a universal problem; since the Garden, we've had a propensity for remaking our God in our own image. And it's a problem that persists today, even in the Church. We all tend to read our preferences, our values, our politics,and our culture into Jesus and let them determine who He is, rather than vice versa.

Like so:

But we don’t have to. We have Scripture. And not only does God’s Word contain a record of the teachings of Jesus on earth (in the Gospels) and the inspired apostolic interpretations of those teachings, it also contains the oft-overlooked Revelation of Jesus Christ and its seven letters from Jesus to seven churches (from whence this blog derives its name). We need not guess or grasp.

Want to know Jesus’ position on sexual ethics for a church that finds itself in a pluralistic, over-tolerant, “sexually liberated” culture? It’s tempting to read our own views into Jesus’ heart and lips (i.e. “I just can’t imagine Jesus saying…”), but to do so is naive at best and idolatrous at worst. How much better to read the letters written by Jesus to churches in almost the same setting (Ephesus, Pergamum, and Thyatira), in which Jesus addresses these issues directly?

Likewise, when it comes to philosophies of ministry, particularly the hot-button issues of Church Growth and Church Health, it’s easy for all of us to assume that Jesus wants to use whatever ideas, strategies, traditions, or gimmicks we prefer in order to grow our churches. I know I’m guilty of this. And if we’re clever, we can even frame certain narratives from the Gospels such that Jesus seems to be on board with this or that trend, book, or buzzword.

These days, I most often see this done (and have been frequently tempted to carry it out myself) with regard to the uber-popular notion that you can tell where God is moving (and how powerfully he’s moving) by how many people gather together, how much of a buzz a church generates in the media, and how large and impressive the facility is .. .