Letters August 2019

Who is the Church?

by Tim Sawatzky, MacGregor, Man.

Thank you, Layton Friesen, for your May 2019 article “Without the Church, You’re on Your Own.” Many years ago I asked myself, “What is the church?” and the nagging question was, “Who is the church?” What is the church generally refers to a building, denomination or organization. Are we as individuals not the church, if we believe Jesus is the Son of God, died for us, forgiving our sins and rose back to life?

I’m reminded of the few missionaries who spent their lives ministering to certain people groups in isolation with no church building in sight. They possibly had a church behind them at home. but were they not the church where they were? Should we not be the church where we are?

Unfortunately, there has been, and is, the thinking out there that church membership is our salvation, probably because so much emphasis has been placed on membership. We may also judge someone that if they don’t attend a church they cannot be Christian. Have you ever thought that if a person goes to church then they must be a believer? Or, better yet, they go to church and they act that way? Meaning that’s not how a Christian behaves.

While I believe gathering together with other believers is very important, I’m concerned that too much emphasis is put on a denomination or certain beliefs and culture rather than the irresistible teachings of Jesus written down for us by eyewitness accounts in the first four books by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

Perhaps a better question is: “Are we creating churches that are so irresistible that those who possibly don’t gather with other believers would love to attend?” Instead of, “Without the church, you’re on your own.”

Following the church does not a Jesus-follower make. If you are talking about a brick and mortar church. If we are the church, that’s me and you as individuals, then we are to be the salt and light to the world and invite others to see how irresistible Jesus is. That I believe is the church.

Balance is Needed to Prevent False Dichotomy

by Jeff Thiessen, MacGregor, Man.

Layton, thank you for your short article about souls and poverty [July]. Terry, thank you for publishing it. The grace versus works split extracted from Paul’s writings is a false dichotomy similar to asking whether we need to breathe air or drink water.  Yes, we do. All water and no air is death by drowning. All air and no water is death by dehydration. Paul, like us, was working out his faith and applying the teachings and what he knew of the life of Jesus to a particular context. In that context it was important for him and others to balance their already strong emphasis on ethics with awareness of God’s grace through Jesus. Our context is perhaps a bit different and we need to continue working out that balance.

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