Friday, August 12, 2005

Changing the Heart and Mind: Out of Focus

“Then Jesus came to them and said,’… Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.’” --Matthew 28:18

According to the New Testament records, Jesus charged his followers to make disciples, to immerse them into the Holy Community of the Trinity, and to teach these disciples to obey all that Jesus had taught the twelve. And, for the most part, it appears that these original followers of Jesus took their charge quite seriously.

Now, jump nearly 100 years into the future and you will find the Church confronted with the teachings of Gnosticism. In order to counter the claims of Gnosticism, the Church spent a good deal of time developing sound theology - or what we might call “Orthodoxy.”

You’ll have a hard time convincing me that theology is unimportant. Without a clear and accurate understanding of who God is, we are less likely to rely on him as for our salvation, provision, security, etc. In other words, if our image of God’s nature is more in line with who He actually is, we are in a better position to enter into His Kingdom and partake of his abundant blessings. But theology – on its own – is not the whole of Christ’s teachings. Theology only makes up a part of Christ’s teachings.

My claim is that the Church as a whole has lost focus of its original commission – to make disciples, immerse them into the Holy Community of the Trinity, and teach these disciples to put into practice that which Christ had commanded them. We have become peddlers of topics – like theology, apologetics, parenting, marriage, civil rights, etc – and hope to convert others to our view on these topics rather than inviting them to enter the good and kindly care of our Father in the Heavens through discipleship, community, teaching them how to live in that Kingdom.

That’s all I have for now. I realize I still haven’t addressed Ex-Pat’s original question of how do we go about changing the hearts and minds of those around us. But, I think I’ve presented why – at least in my mind – the Church is no longer the dynamic and live organism it was in the first century. The Church has preached a gospel of sin management – which prevents people from entering into the riches of the Kingdom – and the Church has lost its focus by making converts to ideology rather than disciples of Christ.