In general, we humans are traditional folks. We get in a rhythm (or a rut, if you prefer) and don’t comfortably get out of it. Whether it is right or wrong, it begins feeling “normal” after a while. To me, a “restoration mindset” is one that will continually seek the truth of the Apostolic days. I don’t mean methods – like my brother Mike said yesterday, how’s he going to get to China to preach to them – on Donkey? Oh wait a minute, they had ships in those days. NO WAY! Too often we get to thinking that the way it has been is the way GOD meant for it to be. Sometimes, isn’t it refreshing for the Father to rip us up from our shallow human roots!
Here’s my take on a restorationist’s Bible reading. Other people may have methods that work wonderfully well, so I’m not trying to change anything for them. But one thing I’ve decided is that I can not go and iron out the do’s and don’t’s of early Christianity completely by the letters of Paul. More importantly, I find that an emulation of the traits of Jesus’ character seem to be the best way to please God. After all, he said, “here’s how you please God” and showed it! In the Supper yesterday, we brought up the topic of the “servanthood” of Jesus. While he was Master and Creator of all, he clearly showed his disciples a servant heart, deliberately! When he got up from the table at the last supper, and wrapped a towel around his waist and began washing feet, his disciples didn’t expect it. That was pretty interesting, seeing as how most Jewish folks would wash feet as you came INTO the house. They had been eating for a while, then Jesus washed their feet. Deliberately showing that greatness was in humility and service, not personal piety.
So as I read the scripture – the N.T. in particular – I’ve begun reading more about Jesus and less about Paul. Maybe I’m just getting on the bandwagon (genius Drew… you JUST started paying attention to Jesus?), but forever I have regarded – or was possibly taught by example to regard – Paul, and doctrine, as important as the Gospels and the character of Jesus. How wrong could I be! If we don’t know Jesus, how can we emulate him and his character! Jesus taught service and personal piety, not in two different categories like we tend to conveniently do. He taught that personal piety is NOT standing on the corner and blurting out some prayer aloud, or wearing your best suit on Sunday morning, or being Christly when it is appropriate for social circles. Jesus actually TOUCHED the leper! More than once… (different lepers), and what was he showing him? That HE was more important than his disease, and that Jesus’ own love for him was stronger than the threat of this illness. He actually cared about the woman at the well, a Samaritan who had a filthy moral lifestyle. He healed begging men who were lame and blind; he showed compassion to children; he ate with sinners – WITH SINNERS! After all, how else would he make any influence on them at all, if he didn’t break bread with them and get to know them to some degree.
I suppose what I’m observing is this: a restoration thinker – not simply one who came up in the Restoration Movement of the last 200 years; but a true restoration thinker, is merely a disciple of Jesus. Christianity is NOT about rules. It is about a relationship with the Father, through the Son’s compassion and shed blood, empowered by His Spirit, and moved to be like the Master in the world. There are some things that are doctrinally right and wrong, of course. But I’m beginning to see that what Jesus wanted – when he said “leave your gift at the altar, and go and be reconciled to your brother,” is a whole and mended relationship with all mankind. That “I desire mercy, not sacrifice” means that holiness is more important than ritual. For sin to not be a part of us, but purged from our way of thinking, and our character infused with the blood of Jesus; showing compassion, love, real-ness, and truth to the world around us.