Monday, August 8, 2011

Peter Rollins weighs in

I've heard of, and talked to, lots of people who say they are maintaining a church membership so that they have a church "to be buried from." As I grow older I am more and more able to understand and sympathize with that concern. However, I suspect that these people are missing the main point of Christianity.

Jesus didn't create a church so we'd have someplace to be buried from. Rather, Jesus' followers are called to be baptized into Christ, which according to Romans 6 means that we die with Christ and are buried with him.

So when we enter the church building for worship, or when we gather in a home to worship, whenever we are among the people who are called by the name of Jesus, whenever we are in Christ, we are called to come and die. That was Bonhoeffer's quote, by the way: "When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die." So we don't need a church to be buried from. Rather, we need to come to church to die and be buried, again and again and again. We need to lay down our identity, our character, our pride, our agenda, our politics, our rights, our wrongs, our guilt, our shame, our happiness, our sadness. All these things we set aside just like a person dying sets these things aside, for we are in fact dying when we come to the cross.

And if we are not coming to the cross, what then is the point of coming to church?

At the conclusion of many of our worship services at Central, we end with the words, "Go in peace; serve the Lord. Thanks be to God!" This is the sign, the signal, the green light that lets us know it is time for us to be raised, for us to come alive again and go out into the world as those who have died with Christ, who have been raised with him. This is the whole point of baptism. This is the whole point of the Jesus-following life. Our lives are defined by death and resurrection -- not just that of Jesus, but our own as well.

Peter Rollins says it well in this four-minute video. It's worth your time to watch.

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