The Church: Spiritual or Material

DSC01482We’ve heard the phrase, “In the world but not of the world.” Catchy, but it’s not found in the Bible.

Today there is a great debate about the nature of Christianity and the church; both are being re-defined before our eyes.

Is the church a spiritual people seeking spiritual change or a spiritual people enacting political and social change?

Are pastors to be judged on their physical encouragements and provisions for their congregations or their spiritual gifts and empowerments for a spiritual people?

Did Jesus die on the cross to change the world or to save His people from their sins?

So-called Progressive Christianity teaches that the church was created by Christ to rally for physical and material change in the world in the form of social justice. What is social justice? Think of any popular cause and add the word “equality” to it.

Others expect pastors to provide material comfort and encouragement along with spiritual additives. For these, the church is a mixture of physical and spiritual, but the real concern is less on the eternal and more on the here-and-now. They prefer to talk about physical healing, material prosperity, and emotional comforts.

Still others want Christians to take over the government, the arts, the business world – the “seven mountains” of influence – to effect meaningful change to every area of life in the name of Jesus. By Christian activism, they strive to make heaven on earth.

These camps argue that the church has spiritual attributes, but exists for material purposes and effects.

We cannot deny that Christians are in the world. It is our physical point of reference and our bodily existence here as human beings has physical ramifications. We must also remember that both this life and this world are temporary. We have been spiritually reborn for a spiritual purpose and existence.

As Christians, let us seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God (Colossians 3:1-3).

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