Would Jesus go to church? This is a pivotal question. If Jesus wouldn’t go to church, then what are we doing there? Now of course, one can spend much time arguing about what the word “church” means. For the purpose of this writing, I am speaking of the church institutional. Earlier this morning, I was sitting in church and started to become deeply troubled in my soul. I couldn’t figure out why. After some moments of prayer, I heard the voice of Jesus say, “Follow me…I’m out here.” I realized very quickly that “out here” didn’t mean in the lobby. I knew were Jesus was. I knew what I needed to do. I needed to meet Jesus out in the streets.
As I pondered what leaving the church would look like, I heard the voice of Jesus say, “Do you remember what I did in the temple?” Jesus never attended a religious institution without the express purpose of deconstructing or destroying. We are called to go and do likewise. If we ever find ourselves in church, we should follow Jesus and tear the whole thing down.
I don’t teach my kids to go to church anymore. I want them to follow Jesus. I’ve realized that I can’t teach my kids to follow Jesus and send them to a place that is so far from what Jesus taught. My kids will only find Jesus where he is…in the streets.
The most important phrase in all of Jesus’ teachings is, “what you have done to the least of these, you have done to me.” If you want to meet Jesus, you have to go where Jesus is. Jesus is not in these institutions. Jesus is not in the church. Jesus is with the hungry. Jesus is with the thirsty. Jesus is with the outcast. Jesus is with the naked. Jesus is with the sick. Jesus is with the inmate. This doesn’t sound like any institutional church that I know.
What does such an incarnational God have to do with our churches? Absolutely nothing. If the church has any benefit, it should feed the rage of those who are truly seeking to follow Jesus where he is. I am convinced that church is not a place for mature followers of Jesus. Those who truly know Jesus encountered him in the streets. How can you know Jesus when you are not where he is? Let the dead bury the dead…go to the streets. Let those who want to think like children keep thinking like children…go to the streets. Jesus didn’t say a damn word about all of these institutions we are trying to keep up…go to the streets. The coming realm of God is about transforming the world not building/maintaining churches. Surely, Jesus is calling us all “out there.”