My neighbor across the road, one house north, so close I could hit his house with a snowball, is a good brother in the Lord Jesus, a pastor of a small church. We rarely see each other, never visit, a wave once in a while, he has his life and I have mine.
Though close we are not close.
My sister lives four provinces away. We communicate often, pray together for unsaved siblings, unload on each other, carry one another’s burdens.
Though distant we are not distant.
Institutional churches institutionalize Christ’s own. An institutionalized christian, though physically close to The Good Shepherd, is relationally more distant than he once was. Jesus aches for his return and sends agents to seek and find, and express His willingness to forgive and reunite.
Martin Luther has been called “the great reformer”. He would disagree. Jesus alone is The Great Reformer, and this hero of the faith was privileged and sufficiently courageous to be used as The Reformer’s voice in a dark and dreary and dreadful religiosity.
The ‘protestant reformation’ was quite incomplete. An improved church, definitely; a finished church, hardly. Though Luther’s light brightened his era, this gutsy brother is but one voice of many used in Christ’s unstoppable program of amending His people. Reform began in the church’s infancy, and the work of sanctification is ongoing, benefitting all having “ears to hear” what Lord Jesus is saying to His church through His church.
Religion is an ever-present danger, menacing Christ’s redeemed saints through the centuries. It abducts newborns quickly, and sets them in one of its drab confinements enclosed by a formidable fence of imaginative doctrines. Relative few escape, and even those are in danger of recapture, such is the strength of religion’s unceasing pull and coercive officers.
The institutionalized evangelical can see his Master way off, but will not betray the pack by running after Him. He has been schooled to believe there is safety only in togetherness. As in Luther’s day, so many can’t be wrong.
Lord Jesus has zero interest in reforming our institutional churches. Both compete for the hearts of His redeemed, and the score is discouraging. Our Lord wants to set the captives free from the calendar, the clock, and the church bulletin – to bring them into at least a semblance of the sensitivity to the Spirit He possessed while here.
There is a life in the Spirit. Everyone experienced that life when first reborn. For most, the happiest days are way back there – back there when life was a fresh breeze, religion had not yet ensnared, and Jesus was “first love”.
Back there is still there, still beckoning, still attainable. The few who have found their way back are sufficient evidence that life in the Spirit – that fresh breeze – can be retrieved.
Lord Jesus and I are co-authors of ANOTHER 95. No book, other than the Book, is without impurities. I – the unfinished and inept me – take responsibility for any and all mistakes, misconceptions, oversights, and lack of both candor and tact. The Lord Jesus – The Great Reformer and “head of the church” and “captain of [our] salvation” – authored all true and graceful portions.
May God give the reader discernment to separate the impure from the pure, my weak assumptions from His noble insights. And if you solely credit our Lord Jesus for any recovery recovered and freedom attained, we stand together.