The phrase, “It’s neither here nor there” defies the Second Law of Logic – the Law of Excluded Middle. If it is neither here nor there then where, exactly, is it? We as human beings generally, and the church specifically, find ourselves EITHER here OR there. HERE and THERE can be viewed as paradigms, and in the midst of a paradigm shift we find that humanity is divided between the two.
I think (pretty-much) everyone has heard it said: “We have never done it that way before.” But, logically, that which got us HERE will not get us THERE. That which got us HERE was designed to only get us HERE, and can in no way get us THERE. If it were designed to get us THERE it would not have gotten us HERE. Clearly, HERE is not, at the same time, THERE. It is going to take another and different kind of thinking to get us from HERE to THERE.
A guy named Eric Hoffer once wrote, “Learners inherit the future. The learned find themselves well equipped to live in a world that no longer exists.” Concerning the Church, to quit learning is to quit hearing God (lest we think we know everything God has to say). When the Church ceases to hear God it necessarily usurps authority (Church-centered) and thus removes Christ as the focal point (Christ-centered). It confounds the point and purpose of the church, minimalizing it into a status quo, making it pleasantly manageable. This fatalistic mentality has only proved to cause corruption, in the real sense of the word (i.e. putrefaction). Without a life supply (the resurrection life of Christ), and fresh air (the Holy Spirit), the church becomes a tomb (a building). Sealed from the inside (club members only) it suffocates from its own constraints (moral/ethical codes of rules and regulations).
There: Resurrection Life for Living
The thing we must learn today is that the “church” is not a building that is built in the middle of a community, but the church is the people. It is the community at large, perhaps with a building as a community center. What got us HERE is the attempt to filter the community into the church building; thus, “churching” them. What will get us THERE is embracing the community as church; which, conversely, will “un-church” the churched. Church is not something we DO. Neither is it what we do TO someone or even FOR someone. Church is something that we ARE. It is that which we are WITH others. Church is humanity as community expressing Jesus Christ. The Church is where God meets the needs of the community.
Us and Them: Division
HERE we put out our signs saying “All are welcome.” We put on our party hats, decorate our building, and bake our cakes. Our aim is to convert the heathens to our own culture; after all, “it’s the Christian one!” But we find that “they” are not coming. So we change our times, styles, and/or days of service, but to no avail. Defensively, HERE, we say, “Well, they just don’t want God in their lives.” “This is how we’ve always done it.”
We and Us: Diversity
THERE we live in and out of our community. Our aim is not conversion, but collision; not with the ivory tower of Christianity, but with the Person of Jesus Christ. With the understanding that God has not called all people to be one culture, but all cultures to be one people we offer ourselves as living sacrifices to others; being WITH others; living WITH others. THERE church is every day; a way of life; a lifestyle lived out as Community, where “we” are the expression of Jesus Christ on the earth!