The Christian franchise is meaningless!

A franchise is a business whereby the owner, the franchisor, licenses its operations – along with its products, branding and knowledge – to another business owner, the franchisee, in exchange for a franchise fee. (expanded Investopedia definition)

Christianity is big business.

Before you argue that Christianity isn’t a business, consider the following.

Firstly, the total wealth held by Christians in 2015 was estimated to be $107.28 trillion; that’s $107,280,000,000,000! Christians own over 55 per cent of worldwide wealth; that's more than all other religions combined. Muslims come in second with $11 trillion (5.8 per cent) and Hindu third with $6 Trillion (3.3 per cent). (ref. Economic Times India Times 14 Jan 2015)

Secondly, in an article dated 15 September 2016 with the title, “Religion in US worth more than Google and Apple combined”, The Guardian reported “Faith economy worth $1.2tn a year – more than combined revenues of 10 biggest tech firms in America, study shows” (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/sep/15/us-religion-worth-1-trillion-study-economy-apple-google)

What share of that $1,200,000,000,000 US market does Christianity corner? I bet my bottom-dollar that it is a lot more than the above-mentioned 55% share of global wealth!

Religion is BIG BUSINESS and Christianity is the biggest of them all.

The messy business of Christianity.

There are hundreds of Christian sects (incorrectly referred to as 'denominations') not to mention thousands of independent, ‘personality-cult’ churches. Each sect purports to represent Jesus Christ but all differ from each other over one or other doctrinal or dogmatic issue; each sect, of course, claiming a superior understanding of ‘truth’ and therefore, observing a superior Christian practice.

But are any of these Christian sects true franchises? How many truly represent the Lord Jesus Christ? I argue none.

On the face of it, the multitude of Christian sects may appear similar to franchises. In the same way that different hamburger franchises have their own, unique recipes, branding and business systems, Christian sects have their rules, regulations and traditions; usually expressed in the form of denominational Constitutions, ‘Articles’ or ‘Statements of Faith’.

Franchises they may appear to be but there is one, vitally important difference.

Where is the franchisor?

Although there may be thousands of unique hamburger recipes and business systems resulting in a plethora of hamburger franchises, there is no original ‘hamburger franchisor’.

And since there is no original hamburger franchisor, anyone with a unique hamburger recipe and successful business system can legitimately start their own hamburger franchise.

Christianity is different (or should be)!

Jesus Christ is the original franchisor of his Church, a spiritual community, not a human organisation.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is not some recipe to be tweaked and modified!

As Paul, that apostolic menace of the early Christian churches, wrote to the church at Ephesus;

There is one body and one Spirit – just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call - one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. (Ephesians 4.4-6)

Notwithstanding the fact that thousands of people, mostly power-hungry men from the ‘professional classes’ (i.e. popes, priests and pastors), have started new sects, no person or group of people, whether well-intentioned or otherwise, have ever been granted the right to start a human organisation under the Lord Jesus Christ's brand.

Not one, not even Peter! (see Matthew 16.18)

Therefore, a meaningless franchise!

The divisions within Christianity render the Christian franchise utterly meaningless.

Where is the Lord Jesus Christ in this mess?

Any hope that Christian leaders will heal the divisions is utterly futile.

And the hypocrisy of Christianity has attracted the contempt of non-Christians the world over, and justly so.

As Paul correctly stated,

The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you! (Romans 2.12)

Not much has changed in almost two thousand years! Christians continue to preach love and unity, while sowing division!

A spiritual Church, not a human organisation.

Jesus Christ did not create a franchise, a human organisation; his early followers did that.

Did Jesus give any instructions for a Christian organisation?

Did Jesus prepare a 'constitution' for his disciples to follow after his ascension?

No and No!

An emphatic “No!” at that. Had Jesus Christ wanted to create a human organisation he would have done so; he would have given his apostles as detailed instructions for his Church as those given to Moses on Mount Sinai.

The Church of Jesus Christi is an anti-Franchise.

If anything, the Lord Jesus Christ created the ultimate ‘anti-franchise’; a spiritual community, a family, free of the corruption found in human organisations!

He gathered a group of disciples and gave them one, simple mission;

“Go and make disciples of all nations … teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28.19-20)

He gave a new commandment;

A new commandment I give to you, "Love one another as I have loved you". All people will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.
(John 13.34-35)

He told his disciples that the Holy Spirit would run the show;

I have told you these things while I am still with you but the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and remind you of all that I have said to you.
(John 14.25-26)

No intermediaries required!

Jesus Christ announced the fulfilment of the new covenant prophesied by Jeremiah;

Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant … I will put my law within them and I will write it on their hearts. I will be their God and they will be my people. No longer will someone teach his neighbour saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they will all know me, from the least to the greatest, declares the LORD.
(Jeremiah 31:31-34)

The true franchisee.

The true disciple of Jesus Christ, the spiritual ‘Jesus Franchisee’, is not recognised by their external branding or practice, but by the spiritual quality of their lives; flawed human beings learning to love themselves, their neighbours and their enemies.

People will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.

What next?

Here is the Good News!

Notwithstanding two thousand years of corruption in Christianity, the Lord Jesus Christ is still setting people free!

If the son sets you free, you will be free indeed! (John 8.36)

I am here to tell you that it is entirely possible to be a disciple of Jesus Christ without embracing the human-engineered abomination called Christianity, the fifth empire.

If you are a Christian and a committed disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ, I encourage you to break the chains of Christian domination! Become a free, Spirit-filled disciple of Jesus Christ; no intermediaries required.

“Seek the LORD while he may be found; call upon him while he is near;
(Isaiah 55:6)

If you are a spiritual seeker who is attracted to the life and teachings of Jesus Christ but repelled by Christianity, I also encourage you to become a Spirit-filled disciple of Jesus Christ while avoiding the chains of Christianity's professional priesthood; the hireling shepherds of John 10.12!

As for me, I was a committed Christian for over 25 years but, in April 2004, I made a conscious decision to give up the Christian label. I became an ordinary human being again; a Spirit-filled disciple of Jesus Christ.

If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples; you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.
(John 8:31-32)

 

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