What would happen if we took Jesus seriously? Creating a church of upstream swimmers.

Yesterday I commented on a post written by Drew Dyck (@drewdyck) on Patheos that as American culture drifts further from Christianity, the church will get "stronger, smaller, and stranger." It will necessarily be populated by "upstream swimmers" who aren't afraid to think and act differently.

But differently how? What will be the drift-or-swim-upstream difference maker for the church of the future?

The more I preach and teach about Jesus, the more I become convinced of one thing:
The church in America simply doesn't take Jesus seriously
If the church in America has a potentially fatal flaw, that's it.

I first noticed that we tend to take Jesus with a rather large grain of salt when I read over the Great Commission for about the thousandth time. But this time I heard a key word: Jesus said "everything."
Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. (Matt 28:19-20a)
Everything? Really? The previous 999 times I had read the Great Commission, I had either skimmed by "everything" without noticing it or reinterpreted "everything" to mean "the subset of things I see solid Christians do." That is the normal way to read it in the church circles of which I have been a part, including the church I now lead. The norm in American Christianity is for "everything" to mean a lot less than "everything."

What, then, becomes of our theology of Jesus? If we don't take him seriously, he becomes the Great Suggestion Maker. The Toothless Lion of Judah. The He-Didn't-Really-Mean-That Idealist.

If we don't take Jesus seriously, then he is not our King. And if he's not our King, then he's not our Savior either. Furthermore, we are no longer swimming upstream. We are drifting with cultural currents. That's why I am asking a question over and over in my life, in sermons, and in conversations:

What would happen if we took Jesus seriously?
We would start with that word "everything," and then we would re-read the Sermon on the Mount and see what "everything" entails. And when we started becoming "everything" people, we would find ourselves being all Drew hopes and predicts for the American church: a counterculture of upstream swimmers; a church that is stronger, smaller, and stranger.


(These thoughts will be continued tomorrow with prominent theologian N. T. Wright weighing in on the importance of taking Jesus seriously.)

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