Would the church exist as it does today in an alternate time-line?

The Back to the Future series is without a doubt one of my favorite movie series!  The idea of time travel and the possibilities of creating alternative time lines is fascinating!  Imagine the possibilities if we were able to go back in time and make one slight alteration.  As a result of one person’s action the future and present as we know it would be completely altered!

There are times that I have wondered, “What if we were able to go back in time and alter events that have shaped today’s Christian faith experience?”  What if we were able to insert into recent history a single seed of thought about God?  What if in the early part of the 20th century there was a greater awakening to the wrath of God being poured out on the cross and the realization that the favor of God has been show to us in its fullness there?  And such a realization removed from pulpits of America the need for guilt-based preaching that led people to condemnation, comparison, and rules based approach to pleasing God.

What would the alternate time-line be like today?

Imagine the Christian landscape today without:

  • guilt-based preaching that demands tithing, giving, serving, or else!
  • promises for God to honor you if you honor Him
  • legalistic environments where people measure their closeness to God by their behavior
  • fear based reasons for following God
  • self-obsession over making sure we’re doing enough to be pleasing to God

Without a doubt, the landscape of Christianity today would be radically different without these distortions of faith.  It is very possible that the “church” would not look anything like it does today.  It is quite possible there would be:

  • fewer church buildings and instead more home/relational based expressions of the church
  • fewer denominations and instead more communities of believers where there was diversity of opinions but centrality of belief
  • fewer self-obsessed Christians and instead more genuine expressions of love, sacrifice, and serving
  • fewer selfish Christians who were insistent on getting reward from their labors
  • fewer Christians who practiced their faith out of fear of what would happen if they didn’t
  • less hypocrisy and condemnation from the Christian community and instead greater grace, mercy, and expressions of love for others

What a world that would be!  And while we don’t have the possibility of going back in time to insert those revolutionary thoughts of grace, we do have the opportunity to plant them in our world today!  We can be the ones who change the future by the reality of what we have experienced in Christ.  As we live in Christ free from fear, condemnation, guilt, and the pressure to have to perform to gain His favor, may we live and create environments that reflect that same kind of grace.

May future generations never have to wonder what it would have been like if they could go back in time to plant a seed of change.

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2 responses to “Would the church exist as it does today in an alternate time-line?

    • That’s a good question! We could ask that about any dimension of the Christian faith about many different points in history. Jarrett’s comment on facebook leaned toward the idea that we have had a generation of performance-based “church” so that in this day and time, grace might be truly seen as grace. There is much truth to that. The Scripture says that Jesus came in the fullness of time. Part of that fullness was in the timing of His message of forgiveness, grace, and righteousness by faith as contrast to the rampant legalistic approach to God. His light shined brightest against the backdrop of the darkness.

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