Are You Fixing the Real Problem?

I believe that the problem with American Christianity is that we are not addressing the real problem…
 
Confused? Let me try to explain:
 
Imagine that your car develops a loud knocking noise in the engine (the thing that makes the car go). This is usually not a good sign.
 
You then take your car to a mechanic and he tells you that your car has spun a bearing on the crankshaft (a real thing) and that it will either need the engine rebuilt or a new engine installed; and neither are cheap.
 
After getting a quote for the repairs, you decide that it is a higher price than you want to pay.
 
So instead of fixing the engine, you ask the mechanic if he can fix something else on the car that needs to be fixed that doesn’t cost as much.
 
Granted, you FIXED SOMETHING; but you didn’t fix what needed to be fixed the most.
 
You didn’t address the real problem.
 
This is exactly what is going on in American Christianity. We realize that there is something wrong with our churches because we are simply not reaching people the way that Jesus said that we should.
 
So, what then is the real problem?
 
I would argue that the problem is that the basic underlying theology of the church (the thing that makes the church go) is broken. But because churches have historically been central institutions of American culture, we just assume that they are operating on correct theological principles and biblical knowledge.
 
But just because the engine is the central component of the car; that doesn’t mean that something can’t go wrong with it if it is neglected.
 
The same principle applies when it comes to the theological underpinnings of the church. If it has been neglected, it can break down.
 
However, when these deficiencies in the theology and biblical understanding of the church are pointed out, church members and leaders also quickly realized that correcting and repairing that central theology and biblical understanding would come at a high price.
 
As a result, churches decide to find something to fix that will not cost them as much.
 
Then they stand back and say, “Look! We FIXED SOMETHING!”
 
Nice, but they didn’t fix what needed to be fixed the most!
 
So then, what needs to be fixed? What is the specific theology that drives the church to do what the church is supposed to doing? What is are the theological underpinnings that are not being taught in our churches?
 
First, Jesus stated that the mission of the church (what the church is supposed to be doing) is to:
 
“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” (Matthew 28:19-20).
 
Therefore, what we are lacking in our churches is a proper theological understanding of “why” and “how” we are to “make disciples” of Jesus and teach them to keep everything that He commanded.
 
I say this with first hand knowledge because I have been in the church my entire life, and I didn’t learn the correct theological underpinnings of why and how we should be and make disciples of Jesus until I was 40 years old and had been in seminary for 3 years.
 
Surely someone should have taught me the correct theological understanding of why and how we should be and make disciples of Jesus long before that!
 
But as far as I can tell, the problem is that no one in the churches in my immediate culture and context actually knew the correct theological reasons that we should be and make disciples of Jesus who know and keep His commands and example.
 
This would also explain why we are failing so badly at being and making disciples of Jesus.
 
Therefore, the first thing that we should be fixing in our churches is the correct theological understanding of why and how we should be and make disciples of Jesus. But again, that comes at a high price.
 
Which is why most churches in my immediate culture and context probably won’t do it.
 
Instead, they will continue to fix something that doesn’t cost as much to fix.
 
And just like the car of the person who fixes everything except the thing that makes the car go; one day it just won’t go anymore; because they didn’t fix the thing that makes it go. (Which can be observed as older, smaller churches go under; and as larger churches survive by cannibalizing the membership of those smaller churches.)
 
So, what then are these theological underpinnings that we have failed to teach in our churches? If we look to Scripture and church history, we can find and learn the theological foundations of why we should be and make disciples of Jesus who know and keep His commands (scriptural proof texts are footnoted).
 
  1. The Image of God as the Basis of Discipleship:

 

The ultimate goal of the Gospel (that is, redemption through the life, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus) is that men bring glory to God by being re-conformed to the image of God that they were originally created to be.[1]

 

  1. The Purpose of Imitating Jesus as His Disciple:

 

The goal of men being re-conformed to the image of God is accomplished by men imitating Jesus, who is the perfect image of God, as His disciple; through the empowerment and enlightenment of the Holy Spirit.[2]

 

(Please take note that almost every book in the New Testament has a reference to being conformed to the image of either God or Jesus. This is not an obscure concept; it is one of the most commonly taught principles in the New Testament and therefore in the early church.)

 

  1. The First Century, Biblical Understanding of Discipleship:

 

Imitating Jesus as His disciple begins (but does not end) with specifically learning and then keeping the words, teachings, commands, and example that He gave during His earthly ministry. It is simply impossible to imitate someone without knowing what they said and did.[3]

 

  1. Biblical Discipleship in a Relational Environment (Relational Discipleship):

 

Being conformed to the image of Jesus by imitating Him as His disciple is not a passive process, but an active/interactive process that occurs within a relational environment; which was established and demonstrated by Jesus during His earthly ministry.[4]
 
 
We would would love to see church members and leaders prove us wrong by beginning to repair the theological underpinnings of the their church by teaching once again these biblical truths that have been taught throughout the 2000 year history of the church. Please let us know if you need help in doing so. Contact us at HWHWF1@outlook.com
 
 
 
For more of our story and historical support as to why it is so important to repent from sin and then imitate and obey Jesus as His disciple, start here and follow the links the end of each article:
 
 
 
 
[1] Genesis 1:27, Matthew 5:48, Romans 1:22-23, 3:23, 1 Corinthians 11:7, 2 Corinthians 3:18, Galatians 6:14-15, Ephesians 4:22-24, 5:1, Colossians 3:9-10, 2 Peter 1:4.
 
[2] Romans 8:29, 12:2, 13:14, 1 Corinthians 11:1, 15:49, 2 Corinthians 4:4, 5:17, Galatians 2:20, Ephesians 4:11-13, Philippians 2:1-5, 3:7-11, Colossians 1:15, 1:28-29, 2:9-12, 1 Thessalonians 1:6, 2 Timothy 3:12, Titus 3:4-6, Hebrews 1:3, 6:1, 12:1-3, James 1:2-4, 1 Peter 1:1-4, 2:21, 2 Peter 3:18, 1 John 2:6, 3:3, 4:17.
 
[3] Matthew 7:24-29, 10:24-25, 11:25-30, 12:41-42, 13:16-17, 13:34-35, 17:5, 24:35; Mark 4:24-25, 4:33-34, 6:34, 8:38, 9:7, 13:31; Luke 6:46-49, 9:35, 10:24, 10:38-42, 11:31-32, 17:10, 19:47-48,  John 3:31-36, 4:25-26, 4:40-42, 5:24, 5:38-39, 5:46-47, 6:28-29, 6:63, 6:66-69, 8:31-32, 8:51, 9:26, 10:27, 12:48, 13:34-35, 14:12, 14:15, 14:23-26, 15:7-17, 15:20-24, 16:6-8.
 
[4] Mark 3:31-35, 4:34, Luke 10:38-42, Acts 2:42-47, 1 Corinthians 14:40, 2 Timothy 2:2, 1 Thessalonians 2:8.