The Great Reversal
Diana Butler-Bass states that the “Western Christianity ordered This however is not the pattern of people today. Butler Bass suggest that we must turn around the order in which the questions are asked. That is, we need to reverse the order to belonging, behaving and believing. This is then the difference between religion as institution and religio as a spiritually vital faith. Early Christians understood that faith was a matter of community first, practices second and belief as a result of the first two. So we must build up this community as well.faith in a particular way. Churches taught that belief came first, behaviour came next and finally belonging resulted depending upon how you answered the first two questions.”
Belonging: People are in search of community. Jesus asked the disciples to follow him (Mark 1;16-20) and they belonged to a new community. People no longer join—they join in. This means that when we join in our heart leads the way. But how do we join in- by finding out about each other and who we are and what we like/ dislike.
Behaving- The early followers of Jesus practised their faith. They listened to stories that taught them how to act toward one another and what to do in the world. These actions induced wonder, gave them courage empowered hope and opened up a new vision of God. By doing things together, they began to see differently. Jesus shouted, “Follow me” to the fishermen—he did not state “Have faith”. He demonstrated what he wanted them t do, he did it with them and then sent them out to do it themselves telling them to proclaim God’s reign and cure the sick.
Believing- Before Peter’s confession of Jesus as the Messiah (Matthew 16:13-20) Jesus practised hospitality. Before asking Peter “Who do you say that I am?” Jesus reminds them of this act of miraculous hospitality, saying that the action pointed to greater spiritual realities of God’s power and presence in the world. That is, Peter’s participation in community and their shared practice set the stage for Peter’s statement of faith.
Being a people, practicing faith, and professing a story of God. This is the method of church families in the 21st century. It is called Experiential Christianity which is the age of the Spirit when faith as a way of life or a guiding compass has once again begun. The experience of the divine is displacing theories about it.
REFLECT for a moment:
Your experience of church- belonging, or believing—which came first?When did Jesus’ story start? When did your sense of community come into mean church?
Holy God, we praise you for your gift to us—communities that care and people who believe in you and show us your way. Help us to understand and bring hope once again to all who are searching for community, belonging and understanding you. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Diana Butler-Bass Christianity after Religion: the end of church and the birth of a new spiritual awakening. .New York Harper2012 (chapter7)