Homogenous Jesus

Every Saturday, my home is filled with 25 or so adults and almost as many kids. We file in, greeting one another with hugs, laughter, and joy. Eventually we make our way to our living room, where we gather corporately, where we re-confess that Jesus is Head, and we allow the Holy Spirit to lead us in our time together.

Jesus is so faithful. Never has a Saturday gone by when a clear theme did not emerge, becoming so evident where God was taking us, teaching us, leading us.

I imagine, that many who do not know what organic church looks like, assume that at some point we must have discussed theology or doctrine in our corporate setting. That somewhere in the midst of this time, Jesus must have led someone to bring up a doctrinal point.

And if you assume this, you’d be wrong.

In over a year of meeting, we have never had a corporate gathering that has lead us to a theological discussion. Even writing it, I feel a bit surprised. How can that be?

Yes, we are discussing theology in the sense that we talk about God–and that is the simplest definition of theology–the study of the nature of God. But, what I mean more specifically is I have never witnessed a member of my church family submit their own theology to the body, try to debate, or try to convince others that their beliefs are right.

Which begs the question, perhaps there is no need for such discussions, because we must all hold similar, if not the same, theologies.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

In reality, the individuals who make up my church family and I hold vastly different theologies. We differ in thinking regarding varying points including salvation, hell, Satan, sin, spiritual warfare, and the like.

Many of us have grappled with, struggled against,  and wrestled with different parts of scripture  allowing the Holy Spirit to lead us to a certain level of understanding (I say ‘certain’ because God still chooses to cloak much in mystery. Not one of us has the corner on Truth. We are fools if we believe otherwise).

And yet much of the conclusions we have come to as individuals within my church family, is still not the corporate theology we all hold.

Yet, despite where we hold different viewpoints, one central Truth remains and holds us fast together:

Jesus Christ is Head.

We are the Body and He is the Head.

That is what we know. That is what we hold. That is what we share. This is what we submit to– one another in Christ and Jesus as Head.

The more time I have spent with this body of believers, whom I count as my own flesh, the more and more I have come to conclusion that Jesus is not at all interested in homogeny. Of course, this should go without saying.

If you stopped a so-called Christian on the street and asked them if they thought God wanted everyone to look and act the same, most of us would chuckle at the idea and answer, “No, of course not.”

Intellectually we know that God desires for us to look more like His Son, but that does not mean that we must all talk the same, look the same, think the same, right?

Imagine if becoming a follower of Christ meant you had to have a certain haircut, wear certain clothes, and eat certain kinds of food. Such homogeny would fly in the face of the freedom Jesus came to bring, wherein He welcomes us as individuals and calls us adopted.

And yet, what I have seen happen again and again within the church is the desire to create a people who all hold the same theology. I have witnessed Christians, and whole congregations, exalt theology over unity.

But when Paul exhorted us to “being of the same mind,” he did not mean “Everyone must think the same on all points.” He meant that we should have the mind of Christ, “having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.”

Think like Jesus. Think on the things of Jesus. Think about the things Jesus would have us think on. Think about Jesus.

…Not following a homogenous Jesus, but a unifying Jesus. Where the truth of being His flock does not also mean we become a herd of sheep.

I feel overwhelmed with gratitude that I get to witness this played out each week–a group of believers seeking the mind of Christ, not their own. Again and again, laying down personal gain or benefit, for the unity of the whole body. It isn’t always easy, but it sure is beautiful.

Have you seen what I’m talking about? Have you been a part of either, where the mind of man is exalted or the mind of Christ? How do we act like His flock but not sheep?


16 thoughts on “Homogenous Jesus”

  1. That is fantastic, Nicole. One of the great things that I take away from my church is that people will share struggles and problems they are having. But oftentimes, they keep the theological disagreements private, or at least discuss them off to the side – for the sole purpose of not tripping each other up, not causing each other to stumble or be offended. It is amazing to see people put their own opinions aside for the sake of their brothers and sisters. Unity is far more satisfying. :)

  2. This is such a true thing, and I think it gets lost in the shuffle too often. I notice the pressure from without, but also from within. I’m so uncomfortable with ambiguity sometimes, I just want to get along with everyone. It is so important to remind myself that God made me who I am, and that my journey, my theology, my growth, are all part of that.
    Such a good reminder, as always, Nicole.

  3. I just finished reading, Speaking of Jesus: The Art of Non-Evangelism, by Carl Medearis. This same notion rang true. Jesus should remain the center…not religion, but relationship. Your “church” is really the model. I pray that we all will receive this revelation.

  4. I think mixed theological opinions happen more than we might think. Matt alluded to the discussions being off to the side. In his case because the folks don’t want to offend. Awesome. Many times there are no discussions, to the side or otherwise because that kind of difference isn’t tolerated. Everyone follows the rules and keeps their opinions on the downlow and there’s no problem. It’s not acceptance but control. We have a recipe for creating a Christian and a mold to pour that mix into that gives the results we’re looking for.

    What a bland, incomplete version of a Christian. I love hearing about your church.

  5. I wish I could find a more diverse group of believers to interact with- my church is amazingly diverse in ethnicity and church backgrounds, which is amazing. But my theology doesn’t fall perfectly in line, and I’m okay with that, but feel the need to continually push for an acceptance of differences in thought among some- thankful for a pastor who welcomes it.

  6. Really like this. I just felt good reading it. Realizing, of course, that one needs to tread softly when putting doctrine up high. Being able to come together and discuss w/o everyone stating “my words are the only ones that are right” is really nice. Everyone gets to grow.

  7. Great post. I especially love the line about Jesus bringing us freedom. Although the leadership of my church, including me are more open-minded, many of our members are mostly conservative and unfortunately sometimes close-minded. But lately God has been shaking things up in our congregation and it is so exciting! I think that if we celebrated our differences and viewed them as signs of how creative our Master is rather than potential threats, we would have an easier time getting along despite not always agreeing.

    1. Tiffany,
      Well-said. I am slowly coming to the same conclusion, that our differences should only help draw a clearer picture of our infinite and creative God. ALl that to say, I still hold Truth above all personal opinion and even personal theology because at the end of the day, it is not our uniqueness but rather Christ that holds us together.

      Thanks for sharing and commenting!

  8. Thought provoking post, Nicole. I am, admittedly, one who loves theology. On some aspects, I feel very strongly. With others, there’s a lot of mystery and I feel very far from having it “figured out”. I love that your community can come together and be led by the Spirit and that in that there is unity. Unity IS beautiful.

    As you mentioned, though, anytime we talk about God, there is theology involved. Any statement about God is a theological statement. Now, when we “major on the minors” so to speak, and cause division simply for the sake of arguing a point, that is not only fruitless, but divisive and damaging. However, to pursue truth alongside one another, to learn more about God and discern what He is speaking to us through His word, is always important. We’re called to speak truth. We need not exalt our theology over unity, but we must preserve truth for the SAKE of unity. If someone in our body is willfully sinning and claims their sin to be no sin at all (or when it’s us who continues to sin and we don’t believe that to be so), that’s when our theology must be discussed. We must call what is sin, sin. Always, of course, for the sake of restoring someone, not just for proving ourselves right and the other person wrong.

    Honestly, this post challenged me and made me think. I’m just not sure where the line is drawn, so to speak. I love rich theology because it helps me to better know and understand and love God. I know that theology has been used to beat people up, but has also been used to heal and restore. The pursuit of truth, in my opinion, is always worth it. Sometimes it causes some uncomfortable conversations, but I don’t believe those conversations should cost us our unity, either. Just some thoughts (and a bit of rambling, to be sure…) I’ll be chewing on this for the next few days.

    1. BTW, I don’t mean to soley focus on the issue of differing opinions regarding sin, but was merely using that as an example. :)

  9. I have experienced a place where there is one doctrine, one way of wearing you clothes for men and women, the minds of men or more exalted, so i know what that is like. This post is actually a revelation for me. Wow. I would love to experience an organic church -Writerscomposition

  10. I genuinely love your blogs; especially on the topic of sex and spiritual liberty. I appreciate your expression that true Christianity is a relationship (love affair with God) not religion. I also believe that what you’re doing closer reflects an Acts style body. However, if we are “thinking on Jesus” then we recognized that part of our purpose as disciples is to make disciples. How do when then evangelize is we are splintered on…wait…I’m going to say it…doctrine…there, I know it’s tough but its not that bad of a concept really. Anyway, to continue my thought…doctrine of salvation. If we are, collectively, not on the same page in our understanding of what rebirths and redeems us how do we “go ye into all the world?” Please, not trying to be argumentative…

  11. Awesome article!

    I would like to request your permission to use this article as a “testimony” of the fact that Organic Churches exist and they work beautifully if people are prepared to leave all their theologies behind and just focus on sharing the one thing they have in common: Jesus Christ.

    I’m writing a new book (you can follow some of the draft chapters here: http://newcovenantgrace.com/organic-church/messages/) and will have a separate section in the book containing (good and bad) testimonies from people all round the world.

    Let me know if you would be keen to share this testimony? I’ll post links, references, etc in the book as well.

    Thanks, and again, AWESOME post!!!

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