Jesus Started a Movement
|I really don’t think we can ever renew the church until we stop thinking of it as an institution and start thinking of it as a movement. —Clarence Jordan, letter, 1967
Michael Curry is the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church and is passionate about the church rediscovering itself as a movement of Jesus:
Jesus did not establish an institution, though institutions can serve his cause. He did not organize a political party, though his teachings have a profound impact on politics. Jesus did not even found a religion. No, Jesus began a movement, fueled by his Spirit, a movement whose purpose was and is to change the face of the earth from the nightmare it often is into the dream that God intends. . . .
That’s why his invitations to folk who joined him are filled with so many active verbs. In John 1:39 Jesus calls disciples with the words, “Come and see.” In Matthew, Mark, and Luke, he asks others to “Follow me.” And at the end of the Gospels, he sent his first disciples out with the word, “Go . . .” [. . .] As in, “Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation” (Mark 16:15). . . .
If you look at the Bible, listen to it, and watch how the Spirit of God unfolds in the sacred story, I think you’ll notice a pattern. You cannot help but notice that there really is a movement of God in the world.
Curry identifies several characteristics of the Jesus movement :
First, the movement was Christ-centered—completely focused on Jesus and his way. . . . Long before Christianity was ever called the Church, or even Christianity, it was called “the Way” [see Acts 9:2]. The way of Jesus was the way. The Spirit of Jesus, the Spirit of God, that sweet, sweet Spirit, infused their spirits and took over. . . .
The second mark of the movement is this: following the way of Jesus, they abolished poverty and hunger in their community. Some might say they made poverty history. The Acts of the Apostles calls this abolition of poverty one of the “signs and wonders” which became an invitation to others to follow Jesus too, and change the world. . . . It didn’t take a miracle. The Bible says they simply shared everything they had [Acts 4:32–35]. The movement moved them in that particular way.
Third, they learned how to become more than a collection of individual self-interests. They found themselves becoming a countercultural community, one where Jews and Gentiles, circumcised and uncircumcised, had equal standing [see Acts 15:1–12].
Curry continues, taking inspiration from the early church for our own moment:
Ministry in this moment . . . has to serve more than an institution. It has to serve the movement.
from Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation Monday 14th November 2022
Opinion: Jesus started a Movement not an Institution
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