24 October 2019

Galatians 2:17–21, Ephesians 2:1–10

There has been a lot of talk in some circles about the increasing percentage of the U.S. population that calls themselves, “nones.” This is used to define categorize people as those having no definitive religious identity. This “none” categorization is awful. It covers a huge range of people.

The panic, in some circles, is that as the percentage of “nones” increases, the number of self-identified “Christians” decreases. What makes the “none” categorization and the conclusion that follows awful is that there is zero nuance. There are people who are Jesus followers (and are saved) that do not identify as Christian. Not that they deny Jesus, but they deny American Christianity. That is an important concept. There is also plenty of Americans who identify as Christian…because they are Americans.

Among the nones are another group, “spiritual, but not religious.” There is some similarity to the “non-Christian” Jesus followers. However, by being more general in regards to “spiritual”, there is less defining, and that is part of the problem.

The Common English Bible has an interesting translation of Ephesians 2:2…”You used to live like people of this world. You followed the rule of a destructive spiritual power. This is the spirit of disobedience to God’s will that is now at work in persons whose lives are characterized by disobedience.” (Ephesians 2:2, CEB)

The interesting characterization is that of following a destructive spirit. Before we start pointing at the world (which definitely has its share of issues), we need to start recognizing the destructive spirit(s) in our churches. There are so many lines that people are drawing within our churches that are separating us. Think of politics. In the current atmosphere, even the most die-hard political person takes a deep breath when someone else (especially of unknown persuasion) mentions politics, and that’s just Democrat and Republican. What happens when we actually start talking about the issues? And, this is in our churches! Then we have cultural issues, too, and many of those are more deeply and tragically ingrained than politics.

1) What issues/concerns keep you from connecting with others in the church? Why?

2) The CEB’s “destructive spirit” sets a different tone than the often implied evil or demonic spirit. Why is that an important perspective shift? How does that open the discussion? What is the danger in only calling it a destructive spirit?

3) Any “spirit” that does not bring glory to God and build up Christ’s bride can be dangerous. Can thing of some “church” spirit that might fall into that realm?

Published by

Pastor Ian

Ian is an ordained Elder in The Church of the Nazarene, and is currently serving as the Online Campus Pastor at Generations Community Church in Marysville, WA, USA.