Friday, September 17, 2010

Forget tattoos — faith must be more than skin-deep

City Church in Anaheim, Calif., celebrated its first birthday — and its success in doubling its congregation to 200 worshippers — by having members get tattoos of the red-heart church logo.

Pastor Kyle Steven Bonenberger told his flock, according to the Los Angeles Times, that God “tattooed your name on his heart” and it was time for an everlasting commitment to him and the church.

Every Christian is indeed indebted to God, but the pastor’s statement is flawed and lacks biblical backing.
The Scriptures teach that an eternal commitment to God is made only through faith by believing in Jesus’ death and resurrection as an atonement for one’s sins.

While tattoos may be permanent, they are not everlasting. Christians believe the soul is the only part of a human that is immortal; when the body disintegrates, the tattoo will vanish.

In the early Christian church, some Jewish believers were incorrectly teaching gentile converts that they needed to be circumcised to be justified by God. The Apostle Paul taught that this external action — once mandated by Mosaic law — had no bearing on one’s salvation and, in fact, could pervert the gospel and make believers think they had a hand in their justification.

In Galatians 6:13-15, Paul says, “they want you to be circumcised that they may boast about your flesh. May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. ... Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is a new creation.”

In his statement, Bonenberger also seems to be encouraging an everlasting allegiance not only to God but also to City Church.

The church is to be a bridge to God, but some people of faith elevate the establishment above deity. One of 12 City Church members who agreed to get inked was quoted as saying, “City Church has really done a lot for our family, so I thought it would be a nice way to pay them back.” Clearly she feels indebted to City Church but says nothing of gratitude to God.

Certainly there is nothing wrong with having an affinity for one’s church and committing to lifelong membership. Spiritual leaders encourage it. “Church-hopping” — jumping from church to church — is a problem. I never considered branding as a solution; it certainly would force one to think twice before “hopping” to the next congregation.

Many churches resort to gimmicks to increase and retain members. Gimmicks are temporary and do little to
cultivate deep faith.

The way to show a commitment to God is not through an external marking but rather an internal one. The Bible says that man is concerned with the outward appearance but God looks at the heart.

1 comment:

  1. Pastor Hodges I am delighted to see you have started a blog. I hope that you would be interested in following mine as well. I haven't been to services although I have longed to be there to praise with our congregation. Unfortunately health and hospital issues have deterred me. I hope maybe you will one day follow my blog on blogger.

    I have been speaking with my sisters Pastor who has taken the time to 'adopt' me in my time of illness, for me to still seek answers and understand Gods' word. I am thankful for that. Right now we are working on Passion and Purpose. It has been hard for me to obtain it but I am finally catching on!

    As far as this blog would it be wrong of me to say that it sounds more like a 'cult' rather than a church? Many churches reach out to their communities, yet their members are not being marked because of their dedication to the church. The people of a church reach out to a community with God in their heart and faith to turn the community into a better/safer place. I don't believe that wearing under-garments, getting a tattoo, or being circumcised is a way to show your love and dedication to God. Man/Woman look at theirselves on the outside when God looks at our heart. He made us into the likeness of him. So how can any of these things be logical? Especially if the Pastor couldn't base his reaction on sensible biblical backing? Many 'cult' members usually have some kind of marking on themselves to show dedication to their belief or leader. How does this seem any different?

    I may be the wrong one to speak since I have a tatoo of a cross on my arm. One of my friends asked me why I wear a cross around my neck, and have a tatoo on my arm, why would I wear these things that represent the pain, suffering, and death of jesus being 'burnt' on a stake? I had to answer back that my intentions on wearing these things do not represent the pain that Jesus went through but the fact that God gave his only son so that we could have eternal life. So that our sins, hers also could be forgiven. It is not that I want to memorialize what he went through, nor do I need a reminder of the absolute horrific pain he endured for us. I suppose for me, the simplest way I can explain it - the cross is my way of saying thank you.

    Jesus being crucified was the absolute most unselfish and loving act ever to be given. What's wrong with loving him and telling him thank you from my heart? Not my arm or the necklace around my neck.