Tag Archives: church

A Long Obedience in the Same Direction

“What we need are fewer revolutionaries and a few more plodding visionaries. That’s my dream for the church – God’s redeemed people holding tenaciously to a vision of godly obedience and God’s glory, and pursuing that godliness and glory with relentless, often unnoticed, plodding consistency.

In doing research for this book, I read three books that had revolution in the title… The Church is certainly called to be salt and light – a beacon of truth and a purifying agent in the world, but I see nowhere in Scripture we are charged with being revolutionary-change architects of a new world order.

Now, to be fair, there’s nothing wrong with wanting a revolution of love or revolution of hope… The problem is that all the talk of revolution suggests that what we need are more Christians ready to check out and overthrow, when by my estimation we need more Christians ready to check in and follow through. As Americans, we are so used to getting what we want, when we want it, and how we want it that when the church is not the way we want it to be we think either (1) ‘I’m being abused,’ or (2) ‘I’m out of here.’

My generation in particular is prone to radicalism without follow-through. We have dreams of changing the world, and the world should take notice accordingly. But we’ve not proved faithful in much of anything yet. We haven’t held a steady job or raised godly kids or done our time in VBS or, in some cases, even moved off the parental dole. We want global change and expect the next Band Aid or Habit for Humanity chapter to just about wrap things up.

What the church and the world needs from us, we imagine, is to be another Bono – Christian, but more spiritual than religious and more into social justice than the church. As great as it is that Bono is using his fame for some noble purpose, I just don’t believe that the happy future of the church, or the world for that matter, rests on our ability to raise up a million more Bonos. With all due respect, what’s harder: to be an idolized rock star who travels around the world touting good causes and chiding governments for their lack of foreign aid, or to be a line worker at GM with four kids and a mortgage, who tithes to his church, sings in the praise team every week, serves on the school board, and supports a Christian relief agency and a few missionaries from his disposable income? Even if one is not harder than the other, certainly one is more common. And sadly, that is the one that is more despised…

Our jobs are often mundane. Our devotional times often seem like a waste. Church services are often forgettable. That’s life. We drive to the same places, go through the same routines with our coworkers, buy the same groceries at the store, and mow the yard every spring and summer. Church is often the same too – same doctrines, same basic order of worship, same preacher, same people. But in all the smallness and sameness, God works – like the smallest seed in the garden growing to unbelievable heights, like beloved Tychicus, that faithful minister, delivering the mail and apostolic greetings (Eph. 6:21). Life is usually pretty ordinary, just like following Jesus most days. Daily discipleship is not a new revolution each morning or an agent of global transformation every evening; it’s a long obedience in the same direction.”

– Kevin DeYoung, Why We Love the Church (pp. 222-225)

An Intro

“In writing my chapters I hope to do more than just talk about people and ideas I disagree with. I really have no desire to make a career being the guy who finds errors in everyone else’s thinking. I don’t apologize for defending the truth both positively and negatively – Paul and Jesus did the same all the time. But my aim is not to create an index of forbidden books and authors who are sick of church or don’t go anymore. My aim is to present to the body of Christ, and to anyone else who cares to listen, a picture of why we should be in the church. Indeed, being part of a church – and learning to love it – is good for your soul, biblically responsible, and pleasing to God.

And I don’t mean the ‘church’ that consists of three guys drinking pumpkin spiced lattes at Starbucks talking about the spirituality of the Violent Femmes and why Sex and the City is really profound. I mean the local church that meets – wherever you want it to meet – but exults in the cross of Christ; sings songs to a holy and loving God; has church officers, good preaching, celebrates the sacraments, exercises discipline; and takes an offering. This is the church that combines freedom and form in corporate worship, has old people and young, artsy types and NASCAR junkies, seekers and stalwarts, and probably has bulletins and by-laws.

The church we love is as flawed and messed up as we are, but she’s Christ’s bride nonetheless. And I might as well have a basement without a house or a head without a body as despise the wife my Savior loves.”

– Kevin DeYoung, Why We Love the Church (p. 19)

Respond to the Challenge

“New Testament teaching on the church is opposed to so many of the currents of modern culture: it places a premium on age and experience; it is doctrinal in that it connects to notions of truth and to the teaching of the truth; and it articulates a hierarchal structuring of the church as an institution. Of course, a careful study of all of New Testament teaching on church leadership would reveal that leadership and authority in the church are not to be conceived of in quite the same way as we find in the world around us. Church leadership is to be marked by service to others, by suffering, by a distinct lack of glory and prestige as the world understands it. It is the church’s failure to embody these ideals that has given some traction to those who place organized religion and its institutions under the same cloud of suspicion as secular institutions such as governments and big businesses. But abuse of church office does not mean that church office ceases to be a biblical idea, and it behooves the church to respond to the challenge of her cultural despisers not by capitulation to the culture or repudiation of the Bible’s teaching but by repentance, reformation, and a renewed commitment to the biblical notion of church government and authority.”

– Carl Trueman, The Creedal Imperative (p. 71)

Work That Is Not True to Itself

If you know anything about me or what I do, you’ll know why I love this quote (taken from Dorothy Sayer’s essay “Why Work”). Many thanks to a friend from church for sharing it with me:

The Church’s approach to an intelligent carpenter is usually confined to exhorting him not to be drunk and disorderly in his leisure hours, and to come to church on Sundays. What the Church should be telling him is this: that the very first demand that his religion makes upon him is that he should make good tables. Church by all means, and decent forms of amusement, certainly – but what use is all that if in the very centre of his life and occupation he is insulting God with bad carpentry? No crooked table-legs or ill-fitting drawers ever, I dare swear, came out of the carpenter’s shop at Nazareth. Nor, if they did, could anyone believe that they were made by the same hand that made heaven and earth. No piety in the worker will compensate for work that is not true to itself; for any work that is untrue to its own technique is a living lie.

The Centrality of Christ

“Given that Christ and His cross are central to God, they must be central to the church of God as well. Given that God pivots everything on the person and work of Christ, the church of God should do the same in its preaching, thinking, worship, and practice. To put it bluntly: if we think we have something better to offer, then we think we know something God doesn’t know. Which… dude. Seriously. Whoa. Think about that.”

~ Dan Phillips, The World-Tilting Gospel (Chapter 7, p. 139)