Make Rules or Make Disciples

Division like fractals

Mandelbrot fractal image. From

We took a vacation last week. My wife’s family gathering. We worshiped in a church of a different denomination than the one we attend. It’s a southern-based, conservative off-shoot of another denomination.

Reminded me of the years I taught a course on American Baptist history. How there was Roger Williams, then Northern Baptists (now American Baptists) and Southern Baptists. And then they split like fractals.

Sometimes these divisions are based on worship style. Some like the solemnity and mystery of high Mass. Others prefer jeans and T-shirts, guitars and drums, hands waving in the air celebration. As for me, I like almost any of the styles.

Most of the divisions are created by rules. We created organizations called churches or denominations. They had to have rules. Then someone said, “I don’t like your rules. I want to make up my own rules.” And off they went. We still do that today.

It is as if Jesus said, “All power in heaven and earth has been granted to me. Go, therefore, and make organizations with individual rule sets around the world so that you can worship God with those with whom you agree.”

But, wait, Jesus didn’t say that. He never spoke about organizations other than to point out the problems with the one religious organization he knew–the Temple worship cult. And he didn’t like it.

What he said was, “Go…and make disciples. Teaching them what I have taught you.” Making disciples–that’s a one-to-one thing. Not a political thing. You model Jesus so that others can model Jesus by modeling you. It’ not rocket science. But, it requires intentional living.

And the organization thing–that’s a human condition. How many divisions of Judaism are there? Islam? Buddhism? Hinduism?

It’s time to focus on the Lord who showed the way. Not on divisions. Divisions detract us from placing our entire attention on God.

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