I just returned home from Salt Lake City where I saw one of the most beautiful Temples you could imagine. Interestingly, it served as a perfect contrast for the series Pastor Andy Stanley has been preaching the past few weeks at North Point Ministries – Brand New.
In his series, Pastor Stanley proclaims that “most of the things you resist about the church are things that the church should resist.” The basis of the series is that with Christ’s coming marked the end of the “Temple Model” (of religion) and signaled something entirely new, hence the series name (Brand New).
Andy Stanley explains the Temple Model as one that you see in so many ancient (and current) religions. It is centered around:
- Sacred Places
- Sacred Text
- Sacred Men
- Sincere/Superstitious Followers
But he says there are no “sacred places,” because Jesus taught that people are sacred. “You are more sacred to God than any place.” Further he says that there is no longer a need to have a high priest to connect you to God. This contrasts to the LDS church which has a beautiful, breathtaking temple which only worthy LDS members can enter and a prophet who is believed to speak the word of God.
“When you are standing on the most sacred place you can imagine, the person to your left is more sacred than the place you’re standing on.
Further, Pastor Stanley delves into his congregation’s own religious understanding when he says:
“Our consciousnesses determine our religious realities, whether it reflects reality or not.”
For example he had many Catholic friends growing up and remembered:
“They had to go to confession. I’m like, you don’t have to go to confession, just tell God and you’re fine. You don’t have to go anywhere. but they just couldn’t imagine not going to mass and going to confession.”
But he highlights his own tradition-based (rather than scriptural) religious understanding when he recalls a conversation he had with his Catholic friends during his youth:
“Meanwhile us Baptists, we didn’t didn’t any drink alcohol, Zero!
No, we don’t drink alcohol.
We drink alcohol at church (communion)
What? You drink alcohol in church?
Yes, why don’t you drink?
Because… you’re not… supposed to.
Is that it?
Yeah, that’s it. You’re just… not supposed to.
But Jesus turned water into wine.
Yeah, but it wasn’t real wine (joking).”
The way you’re raised and the way religion is presented to you fine tunes your conscious.
This is shaping up to be the most interesting series I’ve heard him preach. I believe the fundamental moral of the series will be:
“The only thing that matters is faith, expressing itself through love… “Love God. Love your neighbor. The rest is detail.”
But the series is yet to end so be sure to visit brandnewseries.org/letting-go, especially if you have strong reservations about the Christian church.