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For Such a Time: Ultra-traditional not Reminiscent

July 22, 2010

To reach the unbelieving, skeptical society around us we must express the gospel deeper not broader.  By this I mean that the gospel must be preached with deep reflection on its meaning with bold ramifications for our lives.  The entire battle concerning contemporary and traditional church focuses on style, not content.  No style of church will make people change their lives, make them cry out to Jesus, and give full allegiance to Him.  Only the good news of the reign of Jesus can do that.  That’s why I am suggesting we must get traditional. 

Usually when people speak about traditional Christianity they only go back 50 years.  They are really reminiscing about a time in the past that makes them feel warm or close to God.  They speak of wearing suits, singing hymns, and meeting in tents.  There is nothing wrong with any of these things (although I am partial to not wearing a tie for the benefit of the larynx, and actually I have deep love for hymns).  However, each of these things have only been in Christianity for the past century or two.  The oldest hymns we have are only 500 years old.  How did Christianity survive the previous 1,500 years without them? 

Instead of going back 50 years, I would like to go back 2,000 years.  This is the only way we will tap into the primal energy and power of the Christian faith.  Why is this true?

First, when we return to our founder, Jesus Christ, we tap into the core of our faith rather than being distracted by mere religion.  Founders of any movement have a great passion.  Followers catch this passion.  They try to bottle it, organize it, and duplicate it.  However, this process often dilutes it like a copy made of a copy.  Our unbelieving world needs to encounter the spirit and (Holy) Spirit of our founder.  His passion and vision will set us apart from the pseudo-spiritualities of the world.  Returning to the heart of our founder will require us to take his words and example at face value.  We cannot explain or excuse them away.  When He calls us to sell all we have, take up our cross, deny ourselves, mourn for the world, endure persecution, speak His name no matter the consequence, love our enemies, make disciples of all nations, and give him our full allegiance –  HE MEANS IT.  When we become captured by Jesus, operate out of His logos, and imitate His life we become dangerous once again.  People will love us or hate us but we certainly will not have the option to fit in or get lost in the crowd as “white noise.”  This will only happen if we make Christ supreme and simplify our faith by centering upon Him.

Second, we must return to our founder’s church plant and its mission found in the book of Acts.  They turned the world upside down.  They grew from 120 to 20 million in 300 years.  They did it with no money, buildings or infrastructure.  What did they have?  They had the name of Jesus by which people were saved, the power of the Spirit by which people were changed, and the glory of the gospel for which they were willing to die.  Their opponents would let them preach, but not in the name of Jesus.  These Christ-followers would not stop.  Is Jesus on our lips?  Are we teaching Him, singing about Him, loving Him, imitating Him, and speaking about Him to our neighbors?  Jesus must be given prominence.  Also, we must have a return to the total dependency on the Holy Spirit.  The Spirit is Christ.  Without the Spirit we are not the body of Christ.  It is not up to us or our gimmicks.  Finally, is the mission of God our highest prize or has church membership perks replaced them.  They were willing to die for the mission.  What are willing to do or sacrifice for the mission?  Peter and John would not stop preaching Jesus, and neither would Paul or Stephen when death was threatened (in Stephen’s case death was accomplished).  The mission of the gospel often becomes a subset of the church as one of the many things we do.  Instead, it is the reason we exist.  All programs, all tithes, all fellowship, all teaching, all staff, all facilities, all activities, all worship, all subgroups, and all deeds of service are done for the sake of the gospel of Jesus Christ and to make His name famous. 

Relevancy is not the answer.  Style, new or old, will not change the skeptical hearts of our neighbors.  We must get ancient!

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6 Comments
  1. don permalink
    July 22, 2010 10:47 pm

    Nathan, I read all your articles. AMEN, AMEN, AMEN! I am amazed with your grasp of spiritual reality. You are right on!
    I am so glad you have followed me, and again I say “God has given you a double portion”
    Do you remember the day, I laid my hands on you in front of everyone, and prayed that God would give you a double portion———God has answered my prayer.
    Don’t allow anything to take you from your moorings. LOVE YOU and PRAY for you more than you will ever imagine.
    YOUR PRAYER WARRIOR AND YOUR FRIEND
    DON YOUNG

  2. Greg Rednour permalink
    July 23, 2010 9:56 am

    TI believe the Holy Spirit is virtually unknown in most mainline churches, and in those who recognize His power, it is rarely focused upon. Most Chrisitans, I believe, would not even be able to tell you what function(s) the Holy Spirit performs for us, much else what tremendous power the Holy Spirit is able to provide for us.

    Encouraging to hear you expressing “the power of the Holy Spirit” is what enabled Christians to change. We are told in 2 Tim 1:7 that we are to fear nothing, as we have the love of God, the mind of Christ, and the POWER of the Holy Spirit. To be a force in those around us, we must have knowledge of, and practice all three.

  3. July 23, 2010 10:33 am

    Actually, my intention (whether I accomplished it or not) was to say that no style, new or old, will be the key to reaching our world. I certainly did not mean that we throw away old styles so that we can have new. What I hoped to say was that style needs to be secondary to the gospel itself. In fact, I even mentioned that I love hymns and want to keep singing them (we do at HWC). Please, give this entry another reading and see if that comes through. I will read it again with concern that I might not have clearly expressed what I intended. I do appreciate your thoughts as they challenge me to make sure I am articulating my thoughts clearly.

  4. danny rose permalink
    July 23, 2010 12:02 pm

    PRAISE THE LORD i have to depend on the holy spirit every day every minute that is the only way danny can stay focus….i still miss up some way every day JESUS IS THE ONLY ONE WHO CAN CHANGE A HEART…HE STILL HAS A LONG WAY WITH ME my personal opinion most christians are afraid of the holy spirit he will guide us and direct us IF we will get out of the way i love yo u BROTHER NATHAN by the way the truck stop has reopened PRAISE THE LORD

  5. Sandy permalink
    July 23, 2010 1:01 pm

    Oh Nathan, I am so happy to read this today. Right now I am going through some extremely difficult times… some things I have never experienced before such as caring for my elderly parents (they now live with me), but other things that are making for very trying times. Todays blog really resonated with me in such a way that I cannot explain. Maybe it was what you said about getting back to the original teachings and ways of worship, I don’t really know. Basically I think it is the fact that every single inspired word is there for a purpose and we as a christian nation (our churches) seem to have gotten away from this. As I read my bible one morning this week I realized that Jesus bathed ‘every thing’ in prayer before every action He took. I mean, I knew this already but this time it truly spoke to me that He prayed … deep intense prayer before everything. Since He did all of that, and recorded it through inspired word as instruction, for me as an example of how to live my life and to go about His work, then who am I to do it any differently. I am blessed so very blessed and so in need of doing things His way. I believe we do need to be ‘Traditional’ and follow His lead.

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