Have you ever really paid attention to some of the things Jesus said? I’ve often heard people say that if Jesus preached at many of our churches He would not be welcome to preach again. Yes, Jesus was all about love, forgiveness, justice, mercy, and grace, but He was also very direct when it came to proclaiming the call to follow Him as a disciple. Just look at these things He said…
- Matthew 5:30 “And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.”
- Jesus said, “I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which anyone may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” Then the Jews began to argue sharply among themselves, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” (John 6:48-52). The Jews were not the only ones who began to argue about this saying. “On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?”(John 6:60). And so, “From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him” (John 6:66).
- Luke 14:26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters–yes, even their own life–such a person cannot be my disciple.”
- Luke 9:60 “Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”
Obviously, there’s context behind each of these statements and many of the other hard sayings of Jesus, but my point is that Jesus unashamedly challenged the status quo of religion in His day, and I think it’s time we do the same today.
For some reason, the church, generally speaking, has taken Jesus’ call to be His disciple as we live, work, and play and reduced it to attending a religious obligation that happens for 60-75 minutes on a Sunday. In some cases, 75 minutes is just simply too long, so people will check out at the 60 minute mark. In other cases, people attend church services simply as consumers expecting to be entertained just as they would at any other event. Where did our American church culture get so far off track?
As far as The Grove Church is concerned, we are far from perfect and don’t claim to be anywhere near perfect, but here’s one thing we know moving forward… we don’t want anything to do with a Sunday religion. Religion robs people from having a relationship with Jesus, so we will set our eyes on living as Jesus lived (1 John 2:6).
We believe God has a calling upon our lives individually and collectively as a church. This calling does compel us to gather together on Sundays and celebrate Jesus. At the same time, it challenges us to live our lives for His glory as we become increasingly more aware of His will in our daily lives.
The Grove Church won’t be the right church for everybody, but we want to be the church for anybody who is looking for something more than a weekly religious experience. We want to be a group of people who seeks to love our community. We want to be a church that challenges each other to seek Jesus and respond to His promptings in our lives.
Adherents to religion fashioned around the preferences of people we won’t be, but a movement of disciples who want to make a Kingdom impact for Jesus we will be! None of us are perfect, and we all find ourselves at different places in our journey with Jesus. Nevertheless, it’s our diversity that enhances our unity because we are all growing in our understanding of what it means to BE the church and live as a disciple of Jesus.
Religion is easy, predictable, stagnant, and void of adventure. Living out Jesus’ invitation to be His disciples together as the church… Now that’s a challenge that will transform the way we see life, love the people around us, and determine what matters most!