Wednesday, March 9, 2016

An Interesting Organism

The church is an interesting bunch. I speak in the nebulous sense of those that claim to be part of the body of Christ across all the denominational, theological and political lines. More specifically, I mean those that believe Jesus Christ rose from the dead and rules His Kingdom from His Father's side.

We are from all walks of life, from every culture, every nation and every tribe on the planet. We have one thing in common. We are all sinners saved by His grace.

Many of us live on the knife's edge. We constantly push to the very limits of what is acceptable behavior for one of Christ's subjects. Sometimes our motivations for this are good. We want to seem like an attractive bunch to those in the world that need Jesus. On other occasions, we are believers that, out of fear of eternal condemnation, attend services and perform functions in our local congregation, but behave as though we never knew Him through the week. There are still others among us that are so wrapped up in our own sense of righteousness that we cannot bear being with actual sinners that do not know Jesus.

These are only some of the "types" that exist in a "believing church". Of the three mentioned here, I think the first group is the most interesting and has the greatest potential for kingdom success.

It's true that we are not to be of the world though we live in the world. It's true that we must fear God and serve Him, but that holy fear and faith should generate sanctification that translates into consistent behavior. Finally, we should not be so wrapped up in our pursuit of righteousness, that we shun those outside our faith communities and fear contamination. We are clean because Jesus made us clean from the inside out and not because we scrubbed ourselves clean with study and prayer.

What I am trying to say is that if we want to be successful for the Kingdom, we need to push the limits of grace while maintaining the truth in love. Condemning the outward acts of sinners will not win them for Jesus. Joining them in contradiction to our calling will not do this. But joining them as friends with a conviction about mercy, truth and justice might just win a few. Showing them the peace that comes with knowing Him and the stability that comes even in dark times can make them thirsty. Showing them that you are not opposed to a little fun also goes a long way.

Jesus liked a good party. I think of the wedding feast at Cana where He made the wine. I think of Him going to the houses of Zacchaeus and Matthew without fear and in good conscience, enjoying the party and delivering the truth. I also think about what He said when some wanted to condemn His participation.

To Zacchaeus He said, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

At Matthew's house He told the Pharisees,  “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’[a] For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

We need to be out there among 'em. We need to ask them to join our party. We need to push the limits of traditional "Christian" behavior to bring people in. That might create some messiness in the local congregation. So be it.   

No comments: