Virtue: The Church You Want to Join-Distribution

   A just community distributes commonly the things it most prizes. Most communities prize power, rights and wealth. The earthly church is not different from other Man-stained organizations that apportion the treasures of earth, justly and unjustly.

   As the Church becomes Religion, Inc., it more efficiently sacrifices spiritual influence for the sake of the corporation. Right and wrong scarcely matter, let alone the deep things of God. Treasures in Heaven are fine for the earthly powerless. The greater good of the corporation is paramount.

   What do believers actually owe to Religion, Inc., and why?

   Not long ago, and not for the first time, a bulbous, blustery fellow told me, "If you think your money and time could be better used somewhere else with some other cause, you ought to just go."

   I did.

   Now, I seek to persuade others to go with me.

  I am not interested, as you might see, in adding another level of bureaucracy to an already crowded slate. I am interested in completely replacing the powers of the present with the hope of the future. I have a distinctly future-preferment modus vivendi.

  This change will be the winner in the future. The dinosaur corpse in the parlor already takes up too much room and stinks to high heaven.

   Buffoons, the mendacious, the nostalgic, the inexperienced, protect the old way. Buffoons take too much effort, liars too much care; the nostalgic and the inexperienced, ah, there's the crowd for us. The future beckons.

   What can we do, pipsqueaks as we are, in the face of Religion, Inc.? We can relearn how to distribute our prizes.

   Now, we think we distribute our prizes on the basis of necessity, or what some would call welfare.  This is why we meet annually to hear heart stories of someone helped by a local representative of the larger whole, in order to explain why the larger body (in only the most minimal way related to its local representative) needs our support.

   The necessity is so great, the welfare needs of real persons so acute, we are compelled to continue. We must distribute prizes because people have need. This is an unanswerable argument, until one stops to ask, "Is this the better way to meet needs?"

   In fact, can we actually meet needs this way, or is this tokenism of the lowest kind?

   Or, we distribute our prizes on the basis of freedom, what some might call individual rights or empowerment. Freedom must be respected, the story goes, so the rights of the individual must be paramount. Large government interferes with personal freedom, so some graft and corruption must be accepted as the price for lax regulation.

   People who want to argue necessity tell us of the greater good, so argue we must maximize the welfare of the many. Those who argue for individual freedoms mention respect of the person, so to fend off the cloying hands of encroaching central powers.

   They are both right, but both limited. The future belongs to those who figure out how to distribute goods according to virtue, what some might call justice.

   I am gone from where I was and good riddance, they say, never to return. I am now asking others to go to the future with me. The future is laden with a need for virtue, of which I have little, but plan to start with justice and learn virtue.

   If we distribute our prizes by measure of virtue or justice, prize giving is dependent not only on the need of the recipient (the poor you have always with you), neither on the right to succeed gloriously nor to fail dismally (if he does not work, let him not eat) but on the purity of the distributor (for by grace are you saved, through faith and that not of yourselves, but it is the gift of God, not of works, so that no one boasts of it). We cannot be good but we ought to try.

   I will not be around to see it. Yet, I do want to say, you younger folks who are floundering around with your emergent church thing, here is what you want. You want to find a way to distribute the prizes of the Faith without becoming just another corporate bully. You want virtue, not necessity, justice, not a deistic/laizzes faire Region, Inc., that reduces God to a five point proposition and an offering envelope.

   Your success/failure/peace/serenity will be determined by how well you learn to distribute the prizes.





6 thoughts on “Virtue: The Church You Want to Join-Distribution”

  1. This is incredibly intriguing. It is also thougt provoking.
    As I look to the future and the church in that future, I have to ask myself: “What do we need to do to make a bigger difference in the lives of lost souls?” I can sure say that in my life, the church today and what I see today all over is sure different than what it was when I was younger. It will keep changing as we change, but we do know that Jesus never changes! A-Men to that beautiful consistnecy. So, we’ll keep seeking His plan and will and work hard to do it His way. I just hope the leaders of our denomination will seek to do it GOD’s way and not the old, man way.
    Thanks for your efforts!

  2. Well, Well, Well another rousing statement or bunch of statements put together. A call to action, hmmmm.
    I have only pastored for 8.5 years and already I have noticed the failures of what has been a powerful organization as it has fractured itself into power grabbing, money grubbing and posturing for the future. Differing opinions are not reasonable voices because they call for examination of the why of decisions. Instead of reaching the world it holds itself together by any and all means even self consumption. The future is a vague inevitable thought that will surely transpire as it always has. Where is our urgency, where is our hope of a better tomorrow as Jeremiah stated “a future and a hope”. If we can achieve another programed outreach surely God will bless the right program.
    ENOUGH ALREADY – Can we really have something that man’s hands can hold that God has blessed?? We must become who we are – the 1st church. That is not some mystical entity of Acts. In order to be anything other than the first church then Christ must be a liar. He stated,”This Generation Shall NOT Pass Away” We are in that generation, We are the First Church let’s act like it.
    We can should and will be who Christ leads us to be – based on our choice.

  3. I have just finished reading a book, The Measure of a Man by Gene Getz from Fellowship Bible Church in Plano, Tx. Other than a couple of perspectives on some of the attributes his offering seems Biblical and germain to the topic of how do we develop men of God who are disciplined to disciple, and do it in a timely, ethical and egalitarian manner. Dr Davis maybe you could rerun some of your thoughts on discipleship.

  4. I did not mean to impy that Getz had been unBiblical but rather somewhat innovative concerning perspectives on some the attributes and otherwise very standard and Biblical and germain…

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