We are now at a critical juncture in our cultural history as Christians in America. We are discovering that the kingdom of God has nothing to do with the kingdoms of this world, be they governmental, social or religious. We’ve had 2,000 years of making these same mistakes over and over again, but then again, we never learn from history. You cannot use any power attached to a worldly kingdom to further the kingdom of God. It has been a grave error of the last 30 years for so many to presume that political power could further the work of God in the world. Great harm has been done to America, the church and especially the gospel message as a result.
Because there has been such a confusion of kingdoms in the Christian subculture, we believe it best to abandon the subculture altogether and seek primarily to merely be Christians in the world. Wherever the word Christian is used as an adjective, there will be a confusion of kingdoms. The only thing that can truly be Christian is a person – a follower of Christ.
As a result of this confusion and discrepancy, it is crucial that a new model of conscious involvement in the world be established, and we at the Catch are seeking to provide that, all the while admitting that this is a process which includes making mistakes and learning from those mistakes.
Though not complete, and most likely not entirely right, since we are in process, we nonetheless humbly offer the following statement of beliefs as the beginning definition of what we now call the Gospel of Welcome — Grace Turned Outward.
First, we believe the Holy Spirit has left the building. The Holy Spirit is not and has never been confined to a subculture or the four walls of a church building. The Holy Spirit is alive and well and at work in the world at large, and it is the job of all Christians to find out what He is doing in the world and join Him.
Second, we believe that the gospel of Jesus Christ welcomes all comers, so our “doors” are closed to no one. You do not have to commit to a particular agenda, lifestyle, or orientation to walk with us. Our community is open to all sinners saved by grace.
Third, we believe that true freedom comes from being a disciple of Christ. “If you hold to my teaching,” Jesus said, “you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” For this reason we are not in support of a Christian agenda or even the Christian religion. We are not in support of “Christian” (as an adjective) anything; we are followers of Christ committed to finding out about and following His teaching as laid out in the gospels (the red letters) and backed up by the rest of scripture. That is all.
Fourth, we believe that we can affect the greatest change in the world through humbly loving and serving others, not by lording it over them. Being a Christ-follower is all about power under people, not power over people.
Fifth, we will assume nothing based on words only, but as Jesus taught, by word and deed. It’s not the big things we say, but the little things we do every day that make a difference in the world.
Finally, we believe that all these things taken together constitute a new movement of the Holy Spirit not unlike the Jesus movement of 40 years ago. And because we are an Internet community, worldwide, we believe the Catch community can best act as a leader in this movement. We – John and Marti — enthusiastically accept that role and ask all in our community to do the same. Welcome to the Gospel of Welcome — Grace Turned Outward.
AMEN. I wholeheartedly accept…and thank God that He keeps asking.
And thank you, John & Marti, for sharing what really matters.
I’ll second that!
You completely nailed it. I find nothing wrong or even missing in this model.
This is a revolt 2000 years in the making and the revolution will conclude upon Jesus’ triumphant return at His Second Coming.
All signs point to that date being soon, and it certainly may be.
However, previous generations who witnessed the horrors and perplexities of their day also felt that they were seeing the birth pangs of the Apocalypse and the Parousia.
Until that day does come, though, those of us who bear the name of Christ need to continue on with our uniquely gifted duties in His Name and must press on as our predecessors did before the age of the internet.
Our responsibilities and message to the world – whether in 71 A.D. or 2021 C.E. – are the same that Jesus told His disciples (including us) on the mountain:
“Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold Name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I’ll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age.” ~ Matthew 28 (The Message)
Unfortunately, as John alluded to above, that responsibility has been ignored, twisted, neglected, watered down, misused, abused, and excused by the governing forces operating the established church systems since the days of Peter and Paul.
So, what we’re encountering these days inside and outside the walls of worship are nothing new, nor should they be surprising. All of this was foreseen and written about beforehand in the Holy Scriptures.
If you’ll indulge me just a little bit more, I’m going to copy and paste (from my comments last Wednesday) a couple of germane remarks originally written by Evelyn Underhill in London during the Blitzkrieg of WWII:
Christianity alone holds the solution of humanity’s most terrible and most pressing problem. She alone has something really practical to say, for to her has been confided the Word of God for men.
It is the Church’s hour; and she will not face it, because like the hour of birth it means risk, travail, inevitable pain.
We are forced to the bitter conclusion that the members of the Visible Church as a body are not good enough, not brave enough, to risk everything FOR THAT WHICH THEY KNOW to be the Will of God and the teaching of Christ.
For it does mean risking everything, freedom, reputation, friendship, security – life itself. It is the folly of the Cross, in the particular form in which our generation is asked to accept it; that absolute choice which the Rich Young Man could not make.
“If I were still pleasing men, I should not be the slave of Christ, ” said St. Paul to the Galatians. The Church is still very busy pleasing men.
She has yet to accept with all its penalties the fact of being in the world and not of it, of having renounced the world’s methods and standards and put all her confidence in God’s method and standards. Because of this, her supernatural life is weak and ineffective, and her influence on the nations is slight.
Only when she does make that crucial act of acceptance will she become in the full sense that which she is meant to be: the organ on earth of the Divine transforming power.”
~ “The Church and War” by Evelyn Underhill (1875-1941)
Underhill mentions the “Visible Church” and its flaccidness.
Does what she described in 1940 sound much different than today?
It was just as unbecoming then as it is now but people cling to it nonetheless.
And, here we are – again, needing to rekindle the flames of revolution that will help free both the lost and the trapped (i.e.: the souls ensnared either by sin or the church and/or both).
Perhaps, in our day and age, with the influence and utilization of the internet the Catch and it’s community (and others like it) could be viewed as the “Invisible Church.”
Like the Holy Spirit, it is always there but rarely seen. It moves like the wind but no one – except God – knows where it will blow. The foundation is as firm as the house built on the Rock but there are no walls or doors to prevent anyone from entering or leaving.
And why would anyone want to leave if they do not feel rejected? It provides welcoming warmth, light and Peace.
Yes, there are issues of sin and attitudes and pain and defiance and all of the associated ills each of us endures in our own ways which seem especially amplified through the internet but still, one can hope.
I realize I’m probably too simplistic in my dreams and naïve in my understanding.
I’m a meet-and-greet kind of guy who strongly believes in the tactile needs of everyone: a handshake; a pat on the back; an eye-to eye and ear-to-ear conversation; a physical presence to help or comfort in times of want and loss; a shoulder to cry on; a meal to share.
I firmly believe there will always be a need for physical places to gather and fellowship and worship together so I’m not saying we should abandon our structures or meetings – we just need to breathe new and vibrant life into them. Share and lead if necessary. Be the beacons of hope and comfort AND even discomfort (if it will ultimately draw people out of stagnation and closer to Christ).
Yet, as the “Invisible Church” I think I’m beginning (finally) to see that this may be where the Catch and its community play a vital role in God’s plan and humanity’s future – at least until our Lord returns.
And after that great day, the “Invisible Church” will be revealed personally by Jesus and seen by all as His astonishingly beautiful bride.
He who testifies to all these things says it again: “I’m on my way! I’ll be there soon!”
Yes! Come, Master Jesus! ~ Revelation 22 (The Message)
Be a blessing. Be blessed.
Be of good will. Be cheerful.
Be Courageous. Be encouraged.
Great quote from Evelyn Underhill. And great words from you, Bob. We need to be on our toes, heeding the scripture and bathing everything in love since that is the sum of the law and the prophets.
This message tells it like it is, has been and will be always. Each of us walking with Jesus, serving humbly, and never losing sight of what really counts and has since the beginning when Jesus first came so long ago.