Tagged: doctrine

Less Dogma – More Doing

As I think about this summer blog tour theme of “Faith Unshackled”, I have been thinking about what often shackles our faith. And sometimes, I think we have just made it too complicated. It is like we say, “It can’t be that simple!” and then start arguing doctrine, dogma, and Scripture to avoid the obvious.

Faith Unshackled 01

I have been studying a great deal lately the greatest commandments. There are a few different versions of this in the gospels, but my favorite has become the one recorded in Mark 12. One of the scribes sees that Jesus is a legit teacher, so he asks him the big question. “Which commandment is the first of all?” In other words, what matters the most to God? Most of us know the story. Jesus says something like,

Love God with all you have, and love your neighbor as yourself.” But in Mark’s recording, the scribe gives Jesus a robust “Amen!” “You are right he says!” Then he goes on to repeat back essentially what Jesus has already said and the scribe tacks on, “this is much more important than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices”. But here is the part I love. After the scribe says this, Jesus says, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.

Wait? Loving God and loving neighbor puts us in a place where Jesus basically says, “You’re getting it now. You’re getting closer. You’re discovering the way of the kingdom”?! Can that be?!

Overwhelmingly churches (mine included) give a list of core values and beliefs that are something like, “We believe in God, we believe in the Bible, we believe in salvation, we believe in baptism” and on and on.

But for some reason, I have never seen a church say, “Our core belief is this: love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. Then love your neighbor as yourself. Do this and you are near the kingdom of God.”

That seems a bit too simple doesn’t it? Yet, that is more important than all of the burnt offerings and sacrifices. Or, if I might contextualize and paraphrase it a bit, that is more important than all of our “right beliefs”, “sound doctrine”, etc.

Then we have Matthew 25. I have heard multiple sermons and lessons on this text and how it teaches the reality of final judgment, which by the way I affirm. However, do we ever ponder the question, “What does Jesus say puts one on the wrong side?” If we do, the answer isn’t burnt offerings, sacrifices, correct doctrine, worship service attendance, reading the Bible, understanding baptism, etc. (though those are all REALLY important to talk about and do). Rather, the answer is those that gave food and drink to the thirsty, clothed the naked, visited the prisoners, visited the sick, and welcomed the strangers. I think it would be fair to put that under the heading of “loving God and loving neighbor”.

love god peopleSo when I think about unshackled faith that lives for Jesus with reckless abandon, I think it is best we get back to the basics. The church has been like the football team that has come up with really great offensive and defensive schemes, but forgot to teach the basics of blocking and tackling.

My prayer is that we could continue the important discussions about doctrine, Scripture, and beliefs, but that we would not neglect the seemingly simple and most important. My prayer is that we would get back to the basics. Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, soul, mind and strength. And love your neighbor as yourself. And by the way, I don’t think you can do one without the other. Maybe the best way to love God is to get back to the basics and go love a neighbor. Maybe then the kingdom of God will come near.

sound-waves 01aRyan LassiterRyan Lassiter is the husband of Sarah, and father of 3 (almost 4!) beautiful children. He is also the preaching minister at the Hunter Hills Church of Christ in Prattville AL, he and his wife Sarah have also spent time as missionaries. Ryan graduated with his masters in Missional Leadership from Rochester College and his passion is helping people join God in his mission of redemption and restoration. He blogs at www.ryanlassiter.com.

Matthew 28: Resurrection

  • Read Matthew 28 here.
  • If you missed Sunday’s sermon (24 April), you can listen to it here.

RESURRECTION! What wonderful thought.  That single word turns death into life, it brings light to darkness, it grasps victory from defeat and transforms despair into hope. RESURRECTION!

At the moment of Jesus’ death, his disciples, who had earlier pledged to leave their homes, their businesses, and their families to follow Jesus, now leave him… hanging on a cross.  The emotional and actual darkness of Friday not only sucked the life out of Jesus, it sucked the life out of his movement, and out of his teaching.  From the disciples perspective,hHis years of ministry, his miracles, his healings, his tenderness, his compassion, his vision for the earth, all died with him there on the cross.

That’s why RESURRECTION is a wonderful word.  Resurrection embraces the despair and pain of the cross, but it moves us beyond the cross.  It moves us beyond death.  It moves us beyond sin.  It moves us even beyond forgiveness.  Resurrection carries us to life, to eternity, and even into the presence of God.

At the core of the kingdom of heaven, we don’t find death, even Christ’s death, but life.  Acts 4:33 summarizes the apostles’ message and the resurrection is front and centre, “With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus “.  Again in Acts 17:18 Paul’s is described as “preaching the good news about Jesus and the resurrection.”  As citizens of the kingdom of heaven we’re called to live our lives with a resurrection perspective.

So what does it mean to live with a resurrection perspective?  I love the description Matthew gives in 28:8) of the women who found the empty tomb and who spoke with the angel.  They hurried away from the tomb afraid, yet filled with joy.  They weren’t detached from reality.  They felt fear.  They felt uncertainty.  But their outlook on life was not one that ended in suffering and death.  They had a new outlook.  A perspective that lifted their vision above their current circumstances to a glimpse of eternity: A glimpse that brought them joy.

  • When you think about the Gospel message, how important is Jesus resurrection in your mind?
  • Does the cross, or the empty tomb provide the greatest motivation for you in your Christian walk?
  • The phrase, “Afraid, yet filled with joy.” really stuck in my mind. Can you relate it to your life in the Kingdom?