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Episode 1: The Anatomy of the Church
The overwhelming impression that I’m getting from many Christians today is that they are disenfranchised with church. The body of Christ, functioning as it was designed to, seems to be a very elusive reality today. They want to know why it’s so hard to find the kind of Christian community they read about in the New Testament. They feel unsatisfied and question whether they’ll ever have a deep experience of the Lord and His church or if they’ll endlessly continue to hope for something more. So, what is the source of this discontent? Is the Lord holding himself back from us? Or do we need to re-think what it is we’re doing and how we’re doing it? Together through 2nd man united, we’re going to confront where we are at in our individual and corporate lives, our society and the world when it comes to our Christianity. We’re going to ask a lot of questions and find a lot of answers about Christ and His kingdom on earth. Hope you can join us. We’re going to start with the principle that most of my conversation and study about the church and the Christian life seems to gravitate toward; as will most of your thoughts, opinions and questions. It comes from a concept once put forth by the apostle Paul when he was dealing with the church in Corinth. In I Corinthians 12:12, Paul describes the Church in this way; “The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ.” So Christ is exactly like the human body when it comes to structure. The human body is many body parts that are connected in such a way that they look and operate like one body. And Christ is many Christians that are connected in such a way that they look and operate like one Christian. So let’s go get a bunch of ropes and crazy glue and attach ourselves together, cram into a big house, and open one bank account for all of us. Or, let’s learn together what the body of Christ truly is and align ourselves with it. Both the human body and Christ contain what is known as anatomy and physiology. Although they may only sound like words some kid may have spelled to win this year’s National Spelling Bee, they are vital concepts to the subject matter we’ll be exploring together. And for those whose memories of these terms only recall drawings of naked and transparent bodies in Health class, I’ll go ahead and try to explain as simply as I can what they are. Anatomy is the structure of the parts of the body and how they fit together as one cohesive unit to carry out the body’s physiology; or intended function. In other words, structure determines function. You will hear me refer to this often. Every time a question is asked as to why a human body part functions a certain way, the answer is always the same; because it’s structured to. Seriously, if it was only for looks would anyone have feet? I mean, have you taken a good look at those things lately? The brain is structured to transmit signals. The heart is structured to pump. The stomach is structured to digest food; and so on. If you change the structure of any of those parts in any way, you change how it functions. So it is with Christ and His Church. While it may seem simple to understand, we appear to be having a great deal of trouble finding the right structure for the body of Christ. If your church is like most, you’re probably structured like a business corporation. The kind where everyone cares about one another and looks out for each other’s well-being. The top dog comes around every day to make sure you’ve got what you need and you’re doing OK. Everyone picks up each other’s slack and makes sure what needs to be done gets done. The body of people is loyal to each other through every situation and hard time. Each member would do what it takes to stay together. Money isn’t as important as making sure everyone’s needs are taken care of. OK, I’ll give you a second to stop laughing. Corporations operate under a worldly structure. One that finds its roots in the kingdom of the world. So, why do churches imitate them? Have you ever stopped and taken a look at the similarities? There’s a hierarchy of power and participation in the goings on of these churches. Most borrow the term “pastor” from a totally unrelated office to describe the CEO. There’s VPs, or “associate pastors.” There’s a board of directors. There are stockholders known as “official members.” Church hopping is like day-trading. There are financial statements, accountants and lawyers. Issues get decided by a majority vote if there is even a vote at all. Some members even earn salaries. The “important people” dress up in business suits like they’re trying to sell something. They even take out loans and get insurance to try and reach goals that are inconsistent with the support of their members. The comparisons could go on and on. Isn’t the kingdom of God supposed to be the opposite of the kingdom of the world? Does it seem to you like we’ve adopted many of the world’s ways and slapped them with a Christian theme? It’s time we confronted this situation. Just
make sure you understand that if you’re going to stay a part of an organization that imitates the world and models itself after something other than the true body of Christ, you open yourself up to limitations that lead to not only inferior, but destructive results. You see, groups can take on many shapes, sizes and forms and they can be formed for many different purposes. For instance, they form when you’re at a ball game all cheering for the same team. You’ve never met the guy sitting next to you in your entire life, but all of a sudden when your team scores you’re high-fiving each other as if you are best buddies. Or groups might form because they share a common hobby like riding motorcycles. You’ve seen these people, right? They see one another on the road and they’re waving to each other like “Dude, you’re on a motorcycle, you’re cool, and we’re friends.” And you experience community with those who live in your same location, hopefully; although the trend has been to draw the drapes and turn on the TV all night. I even followed a golfer at a tournament recently just because he was from my hometown. You know, I had to tell him to represent. What makes the church special is that it’s a community centered around Christ, His kingdom, and it’s structure. That’s the reason for its existence and it’s structure is a body of many Christians that relates to one another in such a way that they look and act like one Christian. When the parts blend together correctly, Christ is revealed. This challenge, and it is a challenge, seems to be too much to ask for a lot of Christians. They form divisions over things like the meaning of the word baptism as if it matters if you immerse, sprinkle, pour, peg with water balloons, or dunk your head in a toilet. Once we’ve given into things like differences of opinion to the point where Christ is no longer enough to blend us together, it doesn’t look much like “one” anymore, does it? I mean think about it. What if half of your body tried to go right and the other half tried to go left. Yeah, those of us watching would get a good laugh out of it, but my guess is that you wouldn’t be having much fun. You wouldn’t actually go anywhere, ending up in the same place you started accompanied by a whole lot of frustration. And that stagnation and frustration is just what the body of Christ experiences when it does not take on the “many relating as one” structure. Despite sincere efforts by sincere people, your church community’s structure can be sincerely misaligned. That’s not to say the Lord can’t use or work within any structure. Even if you have a disabled leg, you might be able to walk. And people learn and get saved through other people and churches that do the best they can within the structure they know. But the fact is that they’re limited by it. The Lord doesn’t want us to be limited at all by the structure we’re in. He wants us to have the same kind of experience as any other group of Christians in history has had that has functioned like the New Testament church. I’m talking about a group that functions in such a way as to make outsiders say, “God must be among you.” Like me, you’ve probably been a part of a Christian community that talks and talks about how they need to be doing this or that more. We need to hang out more. We need to love each other more. We need to give more to the poor. We need to evangelize more. We need to read the Bible more. And every other month, they’re coming up with new programs or classes designed to take the church to “another level.” What’s important to remember is that the principle of “structure determines function” is a law of physical and spiritual nature that cannot be changed. Go ahead, scoop that milk with a fork. Hammer that nail with your hand. Cut that steak with a butter knife. And take that steering wheel out of your car and go for a drive. Ok, you might not want to do that last one. My guess though is that if you did you would experience some of the same feelings you’ve had in your Christian life. As is probably the case with some of you, my golf swing is definitely an experiment. As much as I want that ball to go straight and long, my swing is currently not right. I’m not really sure which way the ball is going, assuming I even hit it. The mistake of many amateur golfers is that they get up to hit the ball, look down the fairway, look at the ball, swing and hope for the best. Then, when they either whiff or dig a hole the size of my foot with their club, they step up and do it all over again. They do the same thing over and over again without seeking guidance as to how to improve their swing and gain better results. Doesn’t this seem foolish? It is and we all do it, don’t we? The problem isn’t that they are not able to be a good golfer. If John Daly is a good enough athlete to do it, I’m pretty sure anyone can. It’s that they haven’t been taught what it takes to swing correctly. Just as my goal for a betterfunctioning strike on the golf ball should be directed at improving the structure of my swing and practicing it until it becomes natural, so my goal for a better-functioning life in Christ should be to position myself in the right atmosphere so that my walk with Christ flows naturally from it. And here lies a secret to the Christian life. Instead of focusing on the results you’re looking for, find out what’s going to achieve those results. Once you find out what that is, it will require some effort and commitment, but
you’ll be well on your way to what you’re looking for. And that’s what we’ll be doing with 2nd man united. As we study together, we’ll look more in depth at this principle and specific examples of how it’s operating in the life of the Christian and the church. Together, we’ll figure out God’s ways, expose the world’s and dive into a deeper relationship with the Lord and His people. We’ll take a look at answering questions like, why does this structure produce these results? Why do we do the things that we do? What is the church’s purpose? And what is the structure that allows it to occur organically?, as well as many other questions. Join us and bring your unique perspective.