|“For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body — Jews or Greeks, slaves or free — and all were made to drink of one Spirit.”|
Many people have an aversion to what they call “organized religion”. It’s a bit puzzling, if you think about it. Can you name any regular activity or gathering of human beings that is not organized in some way? The objection to the organized character of religion can’t really be aimed at being organzied. What’s to be preferred? Disorganzied religion?
The objection to organized religion, it seems to me, prefers to assert the individual over the community. No wonder Americans have taken to this brand of ‘Christianism’, where an internalized, experiential form of religion seeks God within the self. I’ve heard people say that all they need is a personal relationship with Jesus and that being part of a church community does not matter. These folks need to pay attention to that Bible they claim to like so much.
To claim that all that matters is a personal relationship with God is to deny how God Himself has defined the character of the Christian life. “We were all baptized into one body”, the Bible says. Oops! There’s that nasty word “We”. Like it or not, if you have been given the Holy Spirit, you belong with all those who share that Spirit. To be Christian is to be baptized into a community of faith.
So, here’s some advice. Forget your spiritual naval gazing or traveling down that bogus, dead-end road called your personal experience. The only god you will find there is one of your own making. If you want to know what being in the Spirit is all about, look around you at the folks in church on Sunday morning who have gathered around word and sacrament. This messy, inconvenient bunch of sinners may not fit with your personalized view of religion, but it is definitely God’s idea of what it means to be Church. He has organized it that way.
“May the peace of God that passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord.”