“Jesus said to them, ‘Is this not the reason you are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God?’” -Mark 12:24
Jesus uses this question to challenge a religious sect who desired to trap him with a question about life after death. I can’t help but think that Jesus would respond to many of our modern church issues with this same question. Most of the debates, arguments, misunderstandings -and just plain bad doctrine – result from an ignorance of Scripture or an ignorance of God’s power.
American Churches especially suffer greatly from this lack of understanding. I’m not asserting that we can ever fully grasp God’s wisdom or power. However, due to poorly educated theologians in North America during the mid 1800’s-early 1900’s who launched new denominations and doctrines, it seems like many in my generation and younger generations struggle to reconcile the Jesus they see in Scripture with the Jesus about whom they’ve been taught.
Part of this is due to a Western consumerist mentality. Americans want things neatly packaged, convenient, and easily accessible… we want it now, we want it fast, and then we want to move on with the life we envision. Church culture has responded by developing classes, small groups, streaming audio/video, online churches, morning devotionals, and specifically timed services or events that are easy to attend. We hear weekly messages that affirm our already held beliefs about Scripture we already know. We feel good about ourselves for attending or taking part in a timed and staged event, then we move on with our lives.
We’ve created an entire industry around our desire for convenience… it’s given many people a good job… it’s created many Christian celebrity millionaires…
and it’s all fairly disgusting, when you compare it to what we see in the Bible.
That is why we’re so far away from the Kingdom of Heaven/God about which Jesus taught. We have lost our knowledge of Scripture and it’s meaning… and because we’ve developed a Christian culture designed around appeasing Christians, we also are ignorant about the Power of God.
When we, Christians, begin truly begin living the life of love and service to others about which Jesus taught, then Scripture will come to life and we will better understand it. When we start loving people who are radically different than us… and stop thinking that service is a project or event, then we will truly begin to understand a faith that cannot be understood simply through study. We don’t need more programs or classes… we just need to get to know others, and understand them… and love them selflessly.
“For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’” -Matthew 25:35-40