No Velvet Rope Religion
Tim: It was bound to happen. What’s surprising is how little time it takes.
Shea: I assume this has something to do with our “Disorganized Religion” tour of Acts.
Tim: Last week, Peter figured out that God doesn’t play favorites and everyone is welcome in this new faith called The Way.
Shea: He has a vision that preps him to meet a Gentile family of believers and he baptizes them on the spot. Then he defends his action to the church’s leaders, and they submit to his wisdom. So what exactly was bound to happen?
Tim: Apparently the idea is harder to manage than they anticipated, because Gentiles everywhere start joining the church, which becomes a problem.
Shea: When is church growth ever a problem?
Tim: When your own traditions conflict with how the Spirit grows the church. UP to this point, the movement has pretty much been a Jewish thing. A lot of foreigners have joined, but they’ve all been from synagogues scattered across the Roman Empire. Like Paul; he’s a Jew from present day Turkey.
Shea: But no Gentiles…
Tim: The only non-Jewish convert before the family we met last week was a eunuch, who’s African, non-gender conforming, and headed back to his homeland of Ethiopia. But so far no Gentiles living in communities where the church is taking root.
Shea: And everyone’s okay with that because Jews and Gentiles don’t mix.
Tim: That’s right. Everyone’s cool with the Jesus movement staying in the synagogues as a sort of rabbinical cult. But now, with Gentile conversions happening everywhere boundaries are getting tested. All kinds of religious and social taboos are being violated.
Shea: No sooner does the Spirit blow open the doors of radical inclusion than folks start trying to close them.
Tim: The big issue is who’s in, who’s out, and it’s a silly question, given Peter’s sermon at Pentecost. “I will pour out my Spirit on all people.” That was his text! Yet folks aren’t sure what do with that.
Shea: What do we say at Gather? “All” means ALL.
Tim: That’s the only way to do it. Who are we to imagine that we can do less and still meet the “all” demand. Now we’re practicing club religion, setting our own standards about who gets in, guarding the velvet rope, picking our favorites.
Shea: And God doesn’t play favorites!
Tim: See how easily we lose touch with the most basic idea in our faith! We’ll talk more about it this week at Gather.
Shea: I know this subject fires you up. I’m sure it’s going to be outstanding!
Don’t miss another fascinating chapter in this summer’s “Disorganized Religion” tour of Acts. We meet on Thursdays at 7:30pm CDT, in person at Pilgrim Congregational Church, 460 Lake Street, in Oak Park. Or you can catch us online via FB Live.
We need your help!
As we think about the future of Gather, please let us know what gifts you bring and would like to share with the community. There are many roles that have to come together to make Gather happen every week. This includes setup, technical support, worship, managing handouts and information, coordinating drinks, and teardown. We need your help. Please let us know what type of service you’d be interested in!
Watch God Work,
Tim & Shea
As we prepare to become a vibrant worshipping community, we invite you to enjoy a Spotify playlist that captures the kind of worship we hope to embrace. Give it a spin while you’re driving. Make it your workout jam. Add it to your devotional time. Most of all, feel yourself becoming part of a sacred village of believers who love their God and one another!
Check out the Gather Worship Playlist here.