sexta-feira, 2 de janeiro de 2015

PEW FAITH AND STREET FAITH


Then they worshiped him
and returned to Jerusalem with great joy.
And they stayed continually at the temple,
praising God.

Luke 24:52-53 (read 24.44-53) - NIV

Luke is the only Bible writer who mentions the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. No other writer shows any knowledge of it. All of the mystique that has been built around Pentecost is based wholly on the account of the writer of the Gospel of Luke and on Acts of the Apostles.

According to Luke the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost was the power that took the followers of Jesus out of the temple and projected them into the world. In this way it traces a line of continuity, making a link between Judaism and Christianity, between Israel and all nations. Jesus did not come for the Jews only, but through his followers his message was intended to reach the entire world.

For God, there are no privileged elites. But for this message to be transmitted it was necessary to "power up". Up until the outpouring of the Spirit the faith of the disciples was "pew faith." They were in the temple praising God. Faith without power is limited to praise in the pews of houses of worship.

According to Luke the power to bear witness to the new message to the larger world came with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. After that the followers of Jesus were expelled from the temple and scattered around the world. Their field of action became the world. The purpose of the Spirit was to get them out of the pews, not keep them sitting there.

For the first three centuries the followers of Jesus had little or no political power and were scattered, blending in with the population. But with the legalization of Christianity the church began to build temples and separate itself from society. Little by little, the Christian temples became centers of spirituality. “Pew praise” became an important manifestation of the Christian faith.

The church came to evaluate itself by the grandeur of its temples and houses of worship and the number of followers it could bring together for worship. The world came to be seen as enemy territory from which Christians must isolate themselves. The goal became to save the sinful world by bringing it in to sit in the pews. Spirituality became centered in the temple. Most of the tithes and offerings were (and are) used to maintain the temple with its ecclesiastical structure. Throughout history, instead of penetrating the nations, Christianity replaced the synagogue with the cathedral.

Pentecost was supposed to lead Christians to live their faith for the sake of the world, not the church. The gospel should not be limited to religious and moral practices. It should involve full participation in "secular" life. The word "repent" means to change direction and follow new paths of daily living. The Gospel should inspire the practice of compassion and social justice in all aspects of daily life. The good news of the gospel is that forgiveness (grace) gives power to live according to what Jesus practiced and taught. Christians are called to live “Street Faith”, not “Pew Faith”. Pew faith is exclusive and legalistic, but “Street Faith” is inclusive and unconditionally reaches out to embrace the needy.

 

Luke 24:44-53 – New International Version (NIV)

 

He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.”

Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”

The Ascension of Jesus

When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them. While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven. Then they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God.

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