Last night (Wednesday) we started our Recalibrate Your Life bible study here at Calvary church. Together we are walking through the gospel of John. I was joined by members of Calvary, and others, who signed up to walk this journey. I know that God is going to bring about something good in our lives as we journey together.
I chose John’s gospel specifically because no other writer presents Jesus this way. John is unique in His understanding and interpretation of Jesus which makes his presentation of Jesus also distinct. Furthermore, John was also leading a community of believers in Ephesus while writing this gospel anywhere between 85-95 A.D. Knowing this helps us understand that his text could literally be viewed as the first sermon preached to a congregation of Jesus followers. In other words, John’s gospel could be understood as the First Churches Bible.
I find it refreshing to go back and stir up these ancient paths. As a follower of Jesus today, are we not supposed to be living and following His Way?
Living in a contemporary world where there are a plethora of voices designed to influence yours, an ongoing challenge for everyone remains: who will I follow?
For John, and his church, the answer is abundantly clear.
Today, the church has many competing options. We are surrounded by theological frameworks and systems that communicate aspects of God’s Truth to many listening ears. Oftentimes Western theology has its roots in specific Western church fathers like Luther, Calvin, Augustine and Aquinas. Most, if not all, were products of the Monastic movement that renounced worldly pursuits in order to devote themselves to a more full, spiritual work. This type of thinking has been handed down through the church and oftentimes produced a gospel with legalistic tendencies. My tribe was no different.
Bradley Truman Noel summarizes Classical Pentecostalism well by highlighting its emphasis on ‘separation’ from the world.1 Early Pentecostals were encouraged to give evidence of their commitment to Christ by pulling away from and denouncing the world’s evil culture and institutions.2 You surely would not want to be caught in the movie theatre, pool hall or local pub when Jesus returns. If you were, Jesus might leave you behind.
For Pentecostals, to follow Jesus and be a Christian meant separating oneself from your surrounding community and culture so that you could live a life free from its negative influence. In this way, others too would enjoy a similar separation from the evil world and come to know Jesus. Noel says, ‘this understanding, of course, does not fit well with Christ’s own description of believers as in, but not of, the world.’ 3
So, if separation from the world is not the way of Jesus, what is?
This is why I have taken it upon myself to write my very first book. It will most likely be a self-publishing endeavour through Amazon (Kindle). I guess this is my first shameless plug of sorts. This is also my first step towards bringing and awareness and committing myself to finish now it is ‘out there’.
My goal in writing this book is an attempt to bring us back to The ancient path, Jesus. By specifically looking at a few scenes from John’s gospel, my desire is to reawaken a movement of Jesus followers who will carry out the mission of Jesus today. After all, Jesus is The Way.
What does that look like?
You will have to wait for the book to find out. However, what I will say is this: the way of Jesus has nothing to do with separating, isolating or insulating oneself from the world.
The way of Jesus is to bring the very light, life and love of God and His Kingdom to a broken, dark and hurting world.
Oh, and yes the title of the book will be: hello Jesus, goodbye church.
Bradley Truman Noel. Pentecostalism, Secularism, and Post Christendom. Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock. 2015. Pg. 181