What would it look like if Christianity actually lived according to the principles of Jesus Christ? (Notice the implicit admission that Christians do not live out their religious values.) This is the central thesis of a new book by a Quaker pastor, Philip Gulley. (If the Church Were Christian, HarperOne) It provides fascinating insights for believers who are courageous enough to think honestly about the way we actually function. Gulley makes ten key points, which I paraphrase here. So far as I can see, these principles are solidly Biblical, although I do not agree with every application he makes.
- Jesus would be a model for living more than an object of worship
- Affirming the potential of others would be more important than condemning their brokenness
- Reconciliation would be valued over passing judgment
- Gracious behavior would be more important than right belief
- Inviting questions would happen more often than giving answers
- Support for personal study would be more important than denominational uniformity
- Meeting needs would be the mission, not maintaining institutions
- Serving as peacemakers would be valued over protecting power
- Christians would care more about love and less about sex
- This life would be equally important with the afterlife*
*In fact, the resurrection would be seen and lived out as a continuity of life instead of a traditional (and largely unbiblical) conception of an "after life."
Why do we not have the courage and integrity to live truly Christlike lives? Why do believers and Christian organizations so often behave in ways that Christ does not intend? There is, of course, a clear answer in Scripture: it is called "sin." And, as Jesus pointed out, it is easier to see the smallest infraction in others than it is to see the much larger hypocrisy in our own lives ... especially when it comes to sinful behavior backed by congregational or denominational tradition. If the Body of Christ is to regain influence in our world today, it must undergo real reformation, as well as spiritual revival. Are you up for that ... really?