Has Jesus left the Church?

I have deliberately made the title vague. It can be taken in a number of ways.

I have just been observing the lead up to Christmas and Christmas itself in Europe. In some places like Seville there was a Christmas market which only sold items for nativity sets. In another few markets I could have bought gloves, scarves and solar panels to do me for a few lifetimes. There has been a mixture of the sacred and secular. All in all, the secular wins.

But Christmas is only a microcosm of society’s attitude to faith and religion in general. So little of the Christ of Christmas remains but that is true of life in general.

So has Christ left the church, in the sense that even the church has left the Christ of Christmas tucked away in some small corner? We sing the carols, attend church for the one time in the year but they are empty tokens. How many sermons were preached this Christmas that declared a radical Christ who introduced a new kingdom through his own death and resurrection? How many sermons declared Christ’s own words, “I am the way the truth and the life. No one comes to the father except through me.” That politically incorrect statement comes from the Messiah and is unpopular in many churches today. The cute baby in in a feed trough is easier to speak about and certainly less confronting.

But there is an even scarier perspective. Christ withdrawing himself, not unlike the Shekinah leaving the temple in Ezekiel. Christ leaving because the people who bear his name do do so thoughtlessly. I know he says in Matt 28 that he will be with his disciples to the end of the age but that was on the basis of their continued faith (not perfection).

The radical Christ, the counter cultural Christ, the Christ of a new and everlasting kingdom, the Christ who purchased the lives of his people on the cross and is now preparing a place in eternity for them, the Christ who dwells in his people through the Holy Spirit, the Christ who fought injustice and prejudice, the Christ who tells us that this life is only a brief pilgrimage … He is so hard to find in many churches and many western lives. Alas in my own life.

Has Jesus left the church? Only if we, his representatives on earth, have left him. In our syncretititic and politically correct age we need need to have the courage of the one who gave us his name to stand up to the culture and attitudes of our age and reveal how amazing his message really is. This Christmas have we been overawed and amazed that God became one of us because He loved us so much? Have we been humbled by his claim on our lives? Are we rejoicing in the revelation of His kingdom?

 

A nativity scene in a side chapel at Caen Cathedral

  

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Categories: christian, Christianity, Church, Faith | Tags: , , | 3 Comments

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3 thoughts on “Has Jesus left the Church?

  1. Wow! A post full of great thoughts, like: “The radical Christ, the counter cultural Christ, the Christ of a new and everlasting kingdom.” It seems here, that many people calling themselves Christians have thought His counter-cultural mission to be one against “traditional values” rather than against the values of a sin-fallen world. Their concept of being “counter cultural” is nothing less than counter-Christ (may we say ‘antichrist’) in reality. It is no wonder that the Lord of the Church is being replaced in the local church.

  2. mickqhs

    One reflection on the absurdities surrounding present day Christmas; When I was a young lad we celebrated Guy Fawkes night every Nov 5th .with a huge bonfire and lots of crackers and fireworks which were all legal in those days.We had no idea who Guy Fawkes was and I pronounced it “Guy Fox” anyway.. Most did not know it was about some failed Catholic attempt to blow up the Protestant king in the early 17th century.Perhaps they forgot the matches. The night then became an excuse do drink, light a fire, and buy dangerous gunpowder toys. After a few years the night was then called Cracker Night and after a few more years, after laws banning dangerous fun came in, the memory of poor Guy and the tradition disappeared from memory; at least in Australia.
    There are many other examples of society taking the meaning out of a ritual and turning that ritual into yet another way of denying realities, calling it a “celebration” or “festival”.
    Perhaps we were seeing this with Christmas 2015

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