Tag Archives: Loving God When You Don’t Love the Church

Review of Loving God When You Don’t Love the Church: The Conclusion

This should be quite a bit shorter than the previous seven reviews I wrote about Pastor Chris Jackson’s book Loving God When You Don’t Love the Church.

chris jackson
Pastor Chris Jackson

The first part of his book seems to be Pastor Jackson’s acknowledgement of how the Church can be a hurtful place, how Pastors, lay staff, and regular members can be heavy-handed instead of open-hearted, and why thousands upon thousands of people have legitimate reasons for walking away from their local churches if not their faith in Jesus.

Jackson was reasonably transparent in describing how he’s been hurt in church and how he has sometimes caused hurt.

Then he attempted to lure his disenfranchised readers back into church using a number of incentives. One was his belief in a third Great Awakening, a national or even world-wide revival of the Church in response to the moral nosedive of current western progressive culture.

He also described how desperately God loves each and every individual Christian as if each person were His favorite son or daughter. He emphasized how each person was born into this day and age to fulfill a unique role in God’s plan of redemption.

But we can only fulfill that role if we are not only part of the universal Church, but fellowship at a local church. Yes, church can be a pretty uncomfortable place and people can be mean or just plain thoughtless. If one church doesn’t work, go to another. He makes it sound pretty simple.

I read a number of the reviews of this book at Amazon.com. Those who didn’t like the book or who were lukewarm to its message said that it didn’t speak to the specific reasons they left, and I have to join this group.

I left church, not because anyone was mean to me, but simply because my theological and doctrinal viewpoints were so different. Hashkafah is a Hebrew word without an exact English equivalent, but basically it’s one’s worldview, specifically regarding your ideology and the reasons behind your ideology. My “Hashkafah” was inconsistent with that of my local church and after two years, the two viewpoints weren’t even beginning to mesh.

I had spent most of that time meeting regularly with the Head Pastor. We developed a friendship, or so I thought, and we each shared our own personal understanding of the Bible, Jesus, and how God’s redemptive plan was supposed to work. As it turned out, he was trying to convince me to change my mind and adopt his viewpoint and I was doing the same thing.

When he preached from the pulpit against my specific viewpoint, I knew I was being asked to change or leave.

Parting was on good terms, but I haven’t heard from anyone at that church since the day I left. At first, I thought Pastor might keep in touch, but he never called or emailed.

Pastor Jackson encouraged people to make amends and either return to the churches they left or find another church to join. The one thing absent from his book is exactly how to do that. He didn’t develop a “re-entry” plan. He just pumped up his audience with how important they were to God and God’s plan, how important the Church is in the next great revival, and how, to be a part of it all, his readers needed to go back to church.

Glasses on Open BibleBut like I said, he didn’t describe that process. It didn’t help that I disagreed with some of his key interpretations of the Bible and the full purpose of how God plans to redeem the world. In fact, at many points in his book, he reminded me of why I left church in the first place, not because the people were unkind, actually, most of them were very compassionate, but because I was totally alienated among them, a “stranger in a strange land,” if you will. I could only attempt to force a square peg into a population of round holes so long.

I downloaded and read Pastor Jackson’s book, not because I was really looking for a way back in, but because a friend of mine expressed his concern that I was without regular fellowship, as if being alone in my faith opened me up to some sort of “spiritual predator.” I re-examined my original decision using Jackson’s book as a lens. In the end, the view showed me what I’d seen in my local church before.

The Church contains a large number of kind, good-hearted, gentle people who desire to serve Jesus and to preach the gospel message as they’ve been taught. But a church is as much a culture as it is anything else, and I learned (or re-learned) from Pastor Jackson’s book that “church” is not my culture.

I’m sure his book serves his target audience well. It just didn’t serve me, at least not in the way he probably intended.

Review of Loving God When You Don’t Love the Church, Part Seven (The Final Review)

When He made the world, He made two ways to repair each thing: With harshness or with compassion. With a slap or with a caress. With darkness or with light.

“And G‑d looked at the light and saw that it was good.” Darkness and harsh words may be necessary. But He never called them good.

Even if you could correct another person with harsh words, the One Above receives no pleasure from it. When He sees his creatures heal one another with caring and with kindness, that is when He shines His smile upon us.

—cited from Kedushas Levi on Shabbos Vayechi, 5751
-Rabbi Tzvi Freeman
Based on the Letters and Talks of the Rebbe, Rabbi M.M. Schneerson
Chabad.org

Continued from Part Six of this review.

Since the overall theme of Pastor Chris Jackson’s book (not to mention one of Boaz Michael’s books) is healing, I thought the above-quoted statement of Rabbi Freeman’s was an appropriate way to start out this final review.

Beginning with Chapter 18: The 21st Century Christian, Pastor Jackson writes:

Do what the occasion requires! This statement comes from the Bible, from the passage when the prophet Samuel gave this command to the newly anointed King Saul (see 1 Samuel 10:7).

The occasion of the 21st century requires a specific response. It requires a specific breed of Christians. The day and age in which we live requires a specific type of church.

The good news is that God has known all along what the specific challenges of each era would be, and He has strategically placed believers in those eras to respond to them.

Jackson also briefly cited Esther 4:14 and other sources, all to say that each of us, you and me, were born and live in this time for a very specific purpose.

That purpose, Jackson says, is to summon revival, which he discussed in a previous chapter. Quoting Romans 8:19-22, Jackson says creation is longing and groaning as if in childbirth.

Of course he means all this starts with the American church and ripples outward, which is Biblically unsustainable. However, it’s his “hook” to engage his reader, to engage us (or them). What he misses (and how would he ever see it?) is that our purpose as believing Gentiles is to encourage Jewish return to Torah observance, to making Aliyah, all in preparation for the return of Messiah and the rise of Israel to the head of the nations.

We can’t simply coexist with the ideologies of our day. We can’t peacefully allow our nation to be overrun and destroyed by demonic strategies.

See what I mean? Oh, I’m not saying that we shouldn’t pray for our country. We are encouraged to do so in the Bible. But America is not the center of all things. We haven’t replaced Israel. New York, Los Angeles, or Seattle haven’t replaced Jerusalem as the city where the Almighty has placed His Name.

But then Jackson asks an interesting question:

What are some of the specific messages that you were meant to carry?

The response I have in my notes is You have no idea.
The other question, which comes at the end of this chapter is:

Do you believe that God has strategically placed you in this hour of church history?

church-and-crossI don’t know that I’m even part of “church history” or “the Church,” at least as Jackson defines those terms. We search all our lives in an attempt to find purpose and meaning in the world and in God’s plan of redemption. Who is to say for what reason you or I exist at this moment in time?

Moving on to Chapter 19: The 21st Century Church, Jackson continues:

I would like to include a chapter here that slightly detours from specifically discussing you and me as individual believers and instead focuses briefly on the bigger picture of the Church. As we move past the hurts we received in church and resolve to take our place again in God’s plan for His Body, it’s important to recognize what that plan is so we can identify what our role in it might be.

Staying with his focus on the American church, Jackson believes that Christianity has a highly critical role in the history of America right now. Quoting Pastor Jack Hayford of The Church On The Way in Van Nuys, California, Jackson writes:

I perceive “an hour” has arrived. It is an hour of citywide impacting that is beginning to occur in New Testament ways, because New Testament vitality and spiritual penetration is taking place.

I have no idea what that’s supposed to mean, even in the larger context of the original quote. Sometimes, Christian Pastors word things rather oddly, at least from my point of view.

Somehow to Jackson, it means “The church is not irrelevant!” I suppose a lot of atheists would disagree with him, especially given certain events that have saturated mainstream media lately.

In order to describe the church the 21st century needs, he goes through a list of churches we read about in the Apostolic Scriptures, such as those congregations as Ephesus, Colossae, Thessalonica, and Antioch. He also mentioned “other New Testament churches, like the one at Jerusalem.” Really, I was astonished (and so would be James and the Council of Apostles and Elders) that he conceives of the faithful first century Jewish disciples in the Holy City as “a church.” Many of the original communities Paul established in the galut were more synagogues, particularly the ekklesia in Antioch, but modern Christians can’t help revising history to make them “churches.”

I was just as surprised that he cited Numbers 23 and Balaam’s words “How shall I curse whom God has not cursed,” applying them to the Church when clearly Balaam was describing Israel. Has Jackson replaced Israel with the Church? It would seem so.

I know he’s trying to build up his Christian readers and building up the Christian Church in order to convince his audience that it is an institution of destiny and that to be part of that destiny, they must return to their congregations, but in order to do so, he has to bend the meaning of scripture beyond any reasonable bounds.

Throughout the rest of the chapter, Jackson reinvents the “Church” at Antioch to look more like a 21st century Evangelical church. This serves his own perspective and probably the majority of his readers, but I don’t think it serves the Bible or God’s true intent in his redemptive plan for Israel and then the world.

Moving on to Chapter 20: The Life of a Puzzle Piece, we read:

Did you know that you and I are living inside a puzzle box?

jigsaw puzzle boxYes, I’ve always suspected as much. Actually, Jackson means a jigsaw puzzle box, with each of us representing one of the pieces. We all have to fit together (he cites 1 Corinthians 1:10 here) in order to see the big picture.

Jackson relates what he calls “The Parable of the Puzzle Piece” to get his point across. From the point of view of the individual puzzle piece, we can’t see the big picture. The puzzle is actually the body of Christ or the unified Christian Church. If we aren’t part of the entire puzzle, then life has no meaning and makes no sense.

Well, that’s not entirely true, since plenty of atheists find meaning, purpose, and direction in life, and there are Christians who aren’t actively part of a local church that have other means of fellowship, and of course, as Jackson says, rely on their relationship with Jesus to help make sense of their lives.

However, returning to the puzzle piece metaphor, he states that although an individual piece can’t see the big picture, it is absolutely essential in order to complete the big picture. If you’ve ever assembled a jigsaw puzzle only to discover that one or more pieces are missing, it can really be annoying.

This is Jackson’s way of saying that each and every individual Christian is important and matters to God. Just like he said earlier that each Christian should be considered God’s favorite.

But each piece only contains a fraction of the whole and will never “fulfill its destiny” if it isn’t correctly put together with the rest of the pieces.

It’s pretty obvious where Jackson is going with all this, but at one point he adds:

Sometimes it takes several attempts for the piece to find its fit.

In other words, if your first church experience doesn’t work out, try, try again. Cute.

Oh, and a puzzle piece usually fits only in one single spot. Trying to fit a puzzle piece in a gap where it doesn’t fit won’t work out well and the piece will end of being mangled if forced.

Be patient, he says. Your place might not become available until other puzzle pieces are put together.

Although he doesn’t quote 1 Corinthians 12, he does say “Don’t get jealous of any other pieces–we’re all equally important.” Equally important but not identical. Each piece is uniquely shaped and will only fit in one location within the puzzle. This might be a message describing the differing roles of Jews and Gentiles in the Messianic movement.

One of his end of chapter questions is:

Do you know that you are crucial for God’s big picture plan?

Even accepting this, as Jackson said before, the individual puzzle piece can’t see the big picture and therefore is unlikely to know where it fits or what it contributes.

Chapter 21: Old People starts out:

Recently, a number of young adults in our church hosted a very special banquet to honor the senior citizens in our congregation. We wanted to treat them to a night of honor and esteem that would send a clear message that we loved and needed them in our church.

This reminded me of the following commandment from the Torah:

‘You shall rise up before the grayheaded and honor the aged, and you shall revere your God; I am the Lord.’

Leviticus 19:32 (NASB)

older jewish man prayingBut Jackson was simply leveraging the concept of “the wisdom of the aged” to what he imagines an older might say to a younger one. Advice like “I’m not better than you” and “It’s all about relationship” (his favorite theme). The advice is largely just restating points he made earlier in his book about being transparent, Christianity’s evangelical mission, and “God will come through.”

Chapter 22: The Abundant Life begins:

I think the book of Ecclesiastes is probably one of the most overlooked and underrated books of the Bible…

Well, in the traditional church, that’s probably true.

On the other hand, Jackson also says:

…and then moving on to something easier, like the book of Psalms or the gospel of John…

The Gospel of John may seem deceptively easy, but being that it’s the most mystic of the four gospels, I’d have to say that anyone thinking it’s “easy” hasn’t read it in sufficient depth.

Going back to Ecclesiastes, Jackson attempts to distill some Christian principles from Solomon’s wisdom such as “The perspective that this life is only a pilgrimage–a journey toward eternity” and “Enjoyment of life’s simple pleasures.”

The bottom line of this next-to-the-last-chapter of Jackson’s book is in one of his end of chapter questions:

Do you ever consider the fact that this life here on earth is merely the dress rehearsal for your eternal life in heaven with Jesus? How does this change your attitude and perspective?

I assume this is meant to put a life in church community into some sort of positive context with the realization that our earthly life is a test. How we perform on the test determines how or if we share a life “in heaven with Jesus.”

I tend to prefer a more Jewish interpretation of being alive, that what we do is important, not primarily because we will merit a place in the world to come, but because what we do summons or inhibits the return of Messiah. Tikkun Olam (Repairing the World) matters because the world matters to God. In fact, it’s to our world that Messiah will return, and it is here, not in Heaven, where we will reside in the Messianic Kingdom.

Last chapter, Chapter 23: Sleeping With Bathsheba…Again.

So, now what? We’ve looked at the good, the bad, and the ugly of church life, and we’ve recognized that, for all of its very human shortcomings, the Church is still the Bride and the Body of Christ. He is still committed as ever to building it into a force that will overthrow hell in every region of society.

Jackson might almost be writing in a foreign language as far as I’m concerned. No, I understand what he’s saying, but it’s just such a different point of view on the purpose and glory of Messiah from the one I hold.

Jackson goes on to say that “we are the Church” and as such, we can’t remove ourselves from church, anymore than we could remove our heart or our lungs and remain alive. In this case, he means spiritual life, of course.

I’m like you-I’m finished with religion that helps only the ultra-disciplined but offers no life for hurting, desperate people.

I know he’s speaking to his target audience, but this is just another slam against ancient and modern Judaism…”religion but no life”. Jackson believes, based on the current “cultural maelstrom,” that we’re “entering the age of the Church,” that the Church is God’s instrument to bring a fallen world back from the brink of disaster. that there will be a great revival in this country (U.S.A), and that we all can be a part of it if we’re a part of the Church (meaning a part of a local church).

leaving churchJackson actually brings up a point (you probably know what it is based on the chapter’s title) that I sometimes think about. After David’s sin with Bathsheba, David remains married to her and indeed, she becomes the mother of Solomon, the heir to the Davidic throne and ancestor of Messiah.

If those events were to happen today, let’s say with a President instead of a King, most of us would be appalled and call for this President’s immediate impeachment and imprisonment.

But in this case, Jackson is talking about second chances:

Perhaps there’s a Bathsheba waiting for you. Perhaps there are relationships in your church that ended in pain, and you’ve vowed never to return to them.

In other words, reconsider your decision.

And that’s it. The end of the book. Since this is a pretty long blog post, I’ll save my final conclusions for another time.

Review of Loving God When You Don’t Love the Church, Part Six

Do you think of yourself as a leader?

-Pastor Chris Jackson
from Chapter 13: A Leader Who Lost His Cutting Edge
Loving God When You Don’t Love the Church: Opening the Door to Healing

Continued from Part Five of my review series.

I need to find a way to accelerate this review process or it’ll take as many blog posts to finish as Jackson’s book has chapters. Okay, here goes.

According to Pastor Jackson, we are all leaders in the sense that anyone with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit will “rise to the top,” so to speak. That said, rising to the top in our homes, our jobs, and our relationships, as he says, is easier said than done. It’s possible for anyone to lose their “spiritual edge,” as Jackson puts it, including Pastors.

The cure for “spiritual dullness” (and I can relate) is to remember that “the Christian journey is not a sprint, it’s a marathon.” True enough. Any of us can temporarily pull ourselves up by our bootstraps, but for the long haul, we need the faithfulness of God to see us through.

Like most Christians, Jackson says we need to believe in God, but he also says we must experience Him. This goes back to advice I’ve been given in the past about not focusing so much on Judaism or Christianity, but pursuing the presence of God. Jews do that through prayer and the mitzvot and there are Christian equivalents, though Christianity considers itself more of a “relationship” than a “doing” religion.

Jackson asks a telling question:

When was the last time you took the day off of work just to be with Jesus?

If this Pastor had a Jewish appreciation of the Shabbat, he wouldn’t have to ask that question, at least not in that way. He might ask instead, “When was the last time you truly observed Shabbos?” With Easter behind us and now in the midst of the Week of Unleavened Bread, special days of Holiness should be on everyone’s mind, and hopefully, in everyone’s experience.

End of Chapter questions included “Have you lost the edge in any area of your life” and “Are you convinced that you can get it back?”

Good questions.

Moving on to Chapter 14: Mimicking God, Jackson spoke of a small-group meeting he had recently attended where the meeting began:

He opened his Bible to Ephesians 5:1 and read, “Be imitators of God.” After that, he closed his Bible, looked everyone in the room in the eye and said three words: “Now…let’s wrestle.”

Jackson continued, “Some truths must be wrestled with.” I agree, and in fact, I believe that many more truths must be wrestled with than most religious people are willing to engage, particularly in the Church.

While Jackson describes Ephesians 5:1 as a “wrestling verse,” he states that wrestling ends in verse 2: “and walk in love.”

The word “walk” is a great word with a profound meaning. In the Bible it means ” to regulate one’s lifestyle.”

WalkingAgain, Judaism anticipated his response with the concept and application of halachah. Jackson’s “halachah,” if you will, is summarized with the word love. That’s true as far as it goes, but it’s out of this love for God and our neighbor (see Matthew 22:36-40) that we must respond behaviorally. Walking in love isn’t metaphorical, feel-good language, it’s a call to action.

I’m convinced that the primary search of mankind is not for doctrine, religious truth or strategies for successful living; it is for love. It is for acceptance. It is for belonging…

Then why are these things so difficult to find in religious community?

When people in the world see Christians who bear one another’s burdens, who are quick to forgive, who fail to judge and criticize, who are quick to repent and ask forgiveness and who reach out with accepting arms of love, they will feel like they’ve come home. They will realize that they have truly encountered Jesus in our churches.

While I can see his point that living out the teachings of the Master is the best way to communicate the truth of his faithfulness, Jackson seems to have moved from attempting to heal the wounded Christian who is estranged from the Church, to matters of what Christians call “The Great Commission” (Matthew 28:18-20). What’s the connection?

Or is Jackson speaking to the person who not only left the church but left the faith?

The Lord not only wants to heal you from your hurtful experiences in church, but He wants to make you one of his saints.

I’m never really sure what being a “saint” means in this context. Is it equivalent to the Jewish concept of a tzadik, a holy, righteous person who is close to God?

From here, Jackson encourages his readers to consider how children relate to God with that innocent faith that never questions anything. We should be more transparent than performance-oriented, don’t worry so much about “coloring inside the lines” (rules), and instead, becoming “prayer warriors”. We should also consider ourselves God’s “favorite,” as if the world were created only for our sakes individually (and that last part is actually a very Jewish concept).

The chapter seemed to focus on how much God loves each of us as a way of healing our hurts and getting us to reunite with church. By realizing that we are loved by God, we should reflect that love, both to people outside the Church and to other Christians.

Jackson continues with this theme in Chapter 15: Becoming Someone’s Angel. I’ve sometimes said that we should be the answer to someone’s prayer. Instead of waiting for God to intervene supernaturally in some situation, if we see a need and we have the ability to fill it, we should fill it. I think Jackson would agree with this.

Jackson seems filled with his own boundless enthusiasm for the work of the Church, so much so that he said:

I believe the United States is due for a third Great Awakening and that the other nations of the earth can also be transformed by a visitation from Him.

Church splitI believe no such thing, and in fact, based on the ethical and moral nosedive that many churches and all of secular western culture is in right now, I believe that in the end, except for a small remnant, the nations in general and most churches in particular, will turn against Jewish people, Judaism, and national Israel. The churches may call that “a Great Awakening” but based on how I read the Bible, it will actually be rebellion against God.

Like many American Christians, Jackson sees America as the central nation in God’s field of vision. But the Bible says that the centrality of Israel is the lynchpin in God’s redemptive plan for the rest of the world. If Jackson doesn’t see this as well, he’s in for a big surprise when the Messiah returns.

Jackson does rightly say that “most answered prayers come in the form of other people,” but he misses the big, big picture.

He did go on to say something to which I can relate:

One Sunday morning I was so discouraged that I didn’t think I could cut it as a pastor. I didn’t even want to be in church.

I used to have quite a number of Sunday mornings in church where I felt exactly like that, not that I had to worry about being a Pastor, of course. My answer was to stop going to church. My Sundays seem more productive and liberating now.

Jackson then told a story that I think illustrates some of my points well. He mentioned how he had visited a church friend, and older woman who was laid up with an injury, to pray with her. As they were praying, he heard a noise from the bathroom and discovered another woman cleaning the toilet. As it turns out, this other church friend had been coming over pretty much every day cooking and cleaning, as well as praying with the injured woman and keeping her company.

I suddenly felt a little sheepish and realized that this young lady’s cooking, cleaning and other practical help was far more a demonstration of the heart of God than any quick prayer.

I completely agree. I think it’s examples like this young woman, this living, breathing answer to prayer, that trump all of the “religious arguments” we have in the blogosphere, from the pulpit, or anywhere else. Churches and synagogues that preach this sort of message and follow it up with continued action are better than all of the theological and doctrinal pontifications we stack up against each other.

Then in Chapter 16: Ten Times Better, Jackson says:

One of the most significant problems with Christians–with me–is that we so frequently surrender the image of God in us. Rather than living in our glory as the Creator’s image-bearers, we live from our lover, natural selves.

And living like that, Jackson wonders if non-believers ask:

Is that what it means to be a Christian?

alone at churchI’m sure many people who surf into our blogs and read the comments sections ask that same question about Christians, Messianics, and Hebrew Roots people as well.

Jackson makes another good point:

…a major reason that people are leaving the Church today by the thousands is that there is frequently no real discernible difference between Christians and the world.

So many churches, in an attempt to “fit in” with the current culture, “adjust” their Biblical morals and ethics to fit the larger, politically correct and progressive mindset of the world around us. How can the Church be imitators of God if it’s too busy taking its cues from CNN and MSNBC?

For the Church as well as the individual believer, how we live out our faith is a matter of choice. Who are we trying to please, people or God?

None of this is why I left church, but I can agree with a lot of what Jackson is saying. True, he’s speaking from his own Hashkafah, but it’s not as if I can’t relate at all with his worldview, at least the broad strokes of it.

It goes back to what I said before. Don’t seek Judaism and don’t seek Christianity, but seek an experience with God. I might add, then walk on the path He sets before you, even if it leads to some pretty uncomfortable places.

I still don’t think that means back into church, or at least not the church I left. My problem is that I can only see a few steps ahead at a time, so beyond that, I proceed forward trusting that God won’t lead me over a cliff.

Moving on to Chapter 17: Christianity Doesn’t Make Sense Without It, Jackson says:

The Christian religion is a lifelong quest to know our loving Creator and become more and more like Him.

In that, it is indistinguishable from my understanding of Judaism, although exactly how that task is accomplished can look quite a bit different between the two religions. For instance, Jackson asked:

How can I know God more? How can I be more like Him? How can I prosper financially and thus bless my family?

That last question seems distinctly Christian. In Pirkei Avot 4:1, we learn:

Who is rich? He who is satisfied with his lot

That doesn’t preclude ambition and achievement, only that we need not constantly feel that we must have more just because somebody else has or become some television commercial says so. I sincerely hope Pastor Jackson doesn’t subscribe to any form of Prosperity Theology, which seems like a total scam.

Jackson wants to “experience the abundant life” he says Jesus promised him? Really? Does that really mean financial abundance? Is that what the Master meant in John 10:10?

Gateway to EdenJackson goes on to compare Genesis 1:1 with John 1:1 and says “John 1:1 details the real beginning of the story.”

I’m sure from his point of view, that probably seems true, but most Christians read the Bible from the Gospels or from Paul backward rather than from Genesis forward. That unfortunately leads to the false conclusion that “the Church” is the center of God’s plan rather than Israel. And focusing on John 1:1, Jackson says:

If any project, process or expedition gets too far away from its original design, it is destined to fail.

Unfortunately, from my perspective, that describes the Christian Church and the divergent path it has taken across history since the days when the Apostle Paul was sent to be an emissary of the Messiah to the Gentiles.

Jackson goes on to state how Matthew 28:19 “set the course of the Church throughout the ages” based on good, solid principles.”

He compares this with:

Jesus said of the Pharisees that they searched the Scriptures in pursuit of life, but they couldn’t find it. They could not find true life because their religion had become divorced from mission.

In other words, he presents a traditionally Christian discounting of the Pharisees and by extension, all of post-Biblical Judaism. From Jackson’s point of view, 100% of the Church’s mission is evangelizing:

On days when I share my faith with an unsaved person, I’m on top of the world.

And…

I exist to manifest the glory of God.

What about the young woman who was manifesting the glory of God by cooking for a disabled woman and cleaning her toilet?

…and I think I blessed the people who were in attendance. Of course, they were just like me…

I think this is the book’s central message about community, whether Jackson intended it to be or not. Particularly in the church, but most likely in any other human community, we thrive if we are in a group made up of people just like us.

But I’m not just like them.

Life makes no sense…until we return to the sanctuary of God. Christianity makes no sense…until we return to the place of mission.

Up to JerusalemAssuming Jackson isn’t being metaphorical, it seems he’s replaced the Holy Temple in Jerusalem with the Great Commission. This isn’t far-fetched from the Church’s point of view if he believes that the body of Christ is the Temple and that we are all stones that together make up the Temple. He won’t be able to see that we can metaphorically and spiritually be a “temple” and yet there can also be a Heavenly Temple as well as a future Temple on Earth in the coming Messianic Age.

These chapters continue to convince me that, as I said above, I’m not like them.

And further, as I quoted Boaz Michael saying in my previous blog post:

Most religious arguments involve bitter clashes over “what we believe” (theology) and “what we do” (praxis). If we do not share the same hashkafah informing our theology and praxis, this type of debate will be pointless and irresolvable.

And…

For example, many Christians operate under the hashkafah which assumes that the authority of the New Testament has replaced the authority of the Old Testament. This paradigm holds it as self-evident that any conditions established in the Old Testament remain operative only if restated in the New Testament. So long as that paradigm remains firmly in place, there is no point in arguing…

I made it through five chapters today. Only six more to go.

I’ll continue my review in a bit.