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Editions
August 09 Edition Cover

Guy Mason May 2011

03 May 2011

The naked church

The church is irrelevant, fake, hypocritical, judgemental, old fashioned and simply out of touch.  

These are a handful of words that come to our minds when we hear the age old word “church.” It is perhaps no surprise then that many Australians are forsaking traditional religion quicker than you can say “pass me the hymnal”.

It may surprise you to hear that I agree with many of the sentiments about church and religion today.  

There are far too many examples of “religious groups” who have substituted Christ and his leadership for a man-centred system of control, self-preservation, self-righteousness and social-disconnection.  These clubs are not churches. They may look like a church, feel like a church, smell like a church – but in God’s eyes – they are not the church.  These fake and phony churches grieve Jesus – and represent the antithesis of his mission and vision.  

The church that Jesus is building is radically different than what we may expect.  

For example in Matthew 5, Jesus gave a famous message declaring His people (the true church) to be “the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”

When Jesus first spoke these words he envisaged the true church to be a growing and dynamic community marked by love, influence, sacrifice, adventure, courage, generosity, and strength.

As a “city on a hill”, the church is to be a vibrant community that stands tall in its generation – emanating a bold and powerful light for the good of all people, and the glory of God.  This image not only gives a vision of what the church can and should be, but also shows us how we might recognise his true community.   

While it is true that people are abandoning “institutionalised religion” – not all are abandoning Jesus and his vision.  In fact, Jesus continues to be the most influential person who ever lived.

Just last weekend we witnessed hundreds of people gather to remember and celebrate Jesus’ death and resurrection.  In response, people gave their lives to Jesus and were baptised.  I was encouraged to hear hundreds of stories like this. 

These people would not consider themselves “religious” but instead everyday men and women who are committed to a life of trusting and treasuring Jesus above all else.  We are by no means a perfect church – but by God’s grace are seeking to be led by Jesus, lead like Jesus and lead others to Jesus.  

In an upcoming series called “The Naked Church” – we’ll take an honest and open look at the glory and garbage of church life.  Investigating one of the earliest Christian communities we’ll discover a church whose sex, lies, cheating, envy and selfish-pride would make for perfect viewing for late night reality TV show.  

Their story not only highlights the pitfalls and dangers of “religious” life – but also will help us consider the place and purpose of the church.    

Guy Mason is the pastor of City on a Hill.  Located through the week in Docklands, it runs public services on Sundays (10am – Hoyts, Melbourne Central; and 6pm – Arrow, 488 Swanston Street).  To find out more visit cityonahill.com.au

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Comments

  • richard pratt at 7:59am on 05/05/11

    The church is a collection of people, with all their faults-Sinners, in fact! So is your nearest Pub or night club, but people go there, and they are not vilified or smeared by it, or otherwise slurred by publicity seekers!But the Church is a gathering of people who realise their faults, and are trying to improve after the example of Jesus. Each of these people is at a differing stage of development, some still with their old unchristian behaviour patterns. Despite its faults, and the constant attacks from its enemies, the Universal Church is an outstanding power for good in a corrupt world, and is the only hope this world has of coming to know peace of heart, through its proclamation of Jesus Christ

  • richard pratt at 8:19am on 05/05/11

    A one sided article, which although it may contain some truth, is none the less an attack on the Bride of Christ,  because it is unbalanced, not showing the positive side of the Church, and simply providing fuel for the enemies of the Church. Just as God will not hold those guiltless who take His Name in vain, so He will punish those who slur the Church for which Christ Died. If what you say in your first line is truly how you see the Church, I am sorry for you, because you can only see evil,and not the beauty that Christ sees in His Church. Mr Mason, you desperately need to publish and proclaim the other side of your depiction of the Church!
    If the words you .

  • David at 1:09pm on 28/05/11

    This article is sectarian and uncharitable. It is well-meaning but misguided and offensive.  How it could be published I do not know.

  • Felix Th lim at 2:04am on 03/01/12

    All stuff and nonsense . You guys are right about onr thing and that is that Christ came to give me a renewed or re-genearted life in the power of the Holy spirit for God’s chosen people as predestined to be saved by his grace alone and beloging to the mytical blood and body of christ as the only exclsively ture cosmic divine entity of being born again into the Kingdom of God . This is what it is meant by the doctrines of the mystery of election and predestination as taught by the calvinist principles. The work of the church thus is to expound and bring into real wroking spiritual effects of salvation by grace based on the completed work of calvary of Christ’s limited atonement for sin and this is the only way in which the lost soul convertd sinner to Christ be able to parcipate in union and communion of life eternal with God the fater and the son- as written in the epsiltes of 1John 5 that this is the record - that he who ahs the son ahs the life amd he who has not the son has not the life and these thinga are wriiten that you night continue to believe in the name of the father and the son of God - Jesus . Certaintly not belonging or conforming to some ecclestical consitution or some fellowship comunity which comples cohersion to human faith traditons . It is no wonder to me thatthe church comes under such asscutuons of hyprocacy for its failure to adhere to ture salvation wrought by grace and justifiaction by redemption thur christ’s atonement alone with the operative mysteries of the effectual power od the hoily spirit. This is highly exacabated by the neo signs and wonders charasntic movement that teaches a compounded demonic cult doctrines of a subjecitive supra-gospel turth and faith expereinces of the holy spirt which are men based on man-made generted wisdom and not on christ and the true supernatural evidences of the holy spirit. This miscreant has caused many to became excedding fustrated , to hate Christ and his word and to eventually turn away from the church alotogher and to point ythe finger when all the fission dies down .

  • Felix Th lim at 2:33am on 03/01/12

    “Thou oh Christ art ALL I WANT! all in all in thee to find”.

    So why should I borther having anything to do with the church in the first place?

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