The internet has shrunk the world, but it hasn’t shrunk the Bible.
Nowadays, though, anyone can find anyone on the internet, and local church ministry is a little less important than it used to be, in some people’s eyes. You can ALWAYS find a “better” place online.
But is it better?
Our passage today is 1 Corinthians 11—the chapter on Communion. God emphasizes the unity of the church, the coming together of the body, and the fellowship that we have in and through Christ.
Communion is corporate as much as it is personal. Both ordinances (baptism and the Lord’s Supper, or Communion) are as much about “US” as they are about “ME.” Western culture has individualized everything, and the internet has shrunk everything—including Bible teaching—into the question, “What do YOU think about this?” If you disagree, well, there’s always somewhere you can turn to find what you’re looking for.
But I’m not convinced that individualization has brought us to a better place. We can personalize the settings on our phone, but we shouldn’t expect that of our church.
Church should be a place of enduring truth that spans generations. Church is the pillar and ground of the truth, so it shouldn’t shift with every passing trend.
The Mennonite Church USA just passed a resolution last week affirming the LGBTQ+ lifestyle—defined in Scripture as the sin of Sodomy—and rescinded its ban on pastors performing same-sex marriages. Rick Warren—the pastor of the second largest church in the Southern Baptist Convention—ordained three female ministers last year and just announced that his successors will be a husband-wife (co-equal) pastor team. The American Spectator reported last week in the article titled, “Methodist Church’s First Drag Queen Pastor: ‘God Is Nothing,’”
Last year, the United Methodist Church accepted Isaac Simmons, who regularly preaches dressed as a drag queen under the name Ms. Penny Cost, as a candidate for ordination. Since that time, Simmons, who serves as an associate pastor at Hope United Methodist Church in Bloomington, Illinois, has challenged basic theological concepts, projecting a worldview where divinity rests not in God but in queerness.
I realize these are the extremes, but they’re not so edgy anymore. The extremes guide the mainstream, and churches are getting sucked right into the flow of this ungodly culture.
I think there’s something valuable to joining a church, if only to belong to something that’s stable in this society.
I don’t pretend for a second to have all of the answers in life, but our church just celebrated 35 years in Temecula. To me, that speaks a lot all by itself. I think we’re basically doing the same thing that we were doing in 1987—preaching the Gospel of “repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ” Acts 20:21. We’re still separating from culture, worshiping God in spirit and in truth, baptizing converts, discipling people, and all the other regular, “boring” stuff that churches have been doing for centuries.
“We need a purpose statement! We need a mission statement! We need a vision statement.”
Matthew 28:19-20 “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”
The mission is the same. It’s what churches did in the 70’s and the 50’s. And the 1800’s. And in George Whitfield’s day, and in every era back to the time of Jesus Christ.
We’re part of something wonderful—part of God’s plan for the world—when we’re connected to a church.
Why was Paul so rigid, so somber, so forceful about communion in 1 Corinthians 11? Because they were breaking the very picture of unity that communion was supposed to be conveying.
We have warts just like anywhere else, but, hey, you’re one of them. And so am I. As long as we’re aware of them and working on them by God’s grace, we’re going the right way. Warts and all, we’re in this together. Join the club!