- The Church…
We are the “church,” it is not a building or any object in the building, no matter how splendid. The community perceives us through our behavior, the choices we make, and the ministries we pursue, these are our outward graces.
First impressions matter very much how people perceive us.
Many “churches” make the claim that they are friendly, suggesting of course that they are friendly to visitors when in fact they may be set up mainly to indulge insiders.
Contemporary people may have a different view of friendly. Contemporary people tend to follow the WYSIWYG test. Used in computer terminology, this suggests that what is displayed is exactly the result: it is represented precisely. A screen preview of a page to be printed is expected to look precisely like the finished product. If it looks like a frog, then it must certainly be a frog. Our behavior is observed and not the splendor and magnificence of our theological beliefs. If there is a discrepancy then we are seen to be posing and posturing.
Jesus suggests the direction of our focus, and it is certainly not to coddle insiders but to invite outsiders, he doesn’t want our religion to get in the way of his mission for us. All are welcome… even those who need a little help too.
“Who needs a doctor: the healthy or the sick? Go figure out what this Scripture means: ‘I’m after mercy, not religion.’ I’m here to invite outsiders, not coddle insiders.” Matthew 9:12 (MSG)
As the church, we, the followers, the disciples of Jesus are to be obedient to his commandments, and here he suggests that we spend time in prayer to figure out what he means by “invite outsiders and not coddle insiders.”
“Following Jesus is not easy: Can u …Side w/hurt people, & not get hurt? Love in a world that hates, & not get hated? Sacrifice in a world that takes, & not get taken?” (http://twitter.com/lensweet, 4/1/2010, web)
Following Jesus is an adventure. You know that you are following Jesus particularly when the powers, principalities, and forces of this world oppose you; we build community when we stand by those who stand by Jesus.
The Gospels are stories of a man who was subversive towards current ideas about God; who undermined the social, political and religious status quo; who… named systematic and systemic injustice wherever he saw it and raged in the streets against government and religious hypocrisy. He took sides with the outcasts and the dismissed the untouchables and the social scapegoat. (Will The Real Jesus Please Stand Up…Sea of Faith Magazine publication)
Characterized by popular Christian authors Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola, Jesus Deficit Disorder, “is the major malady of the church today…The person of Jesus is increasingly politically incorrect, and is being replaced by the language of “justice,” “the kingdom of God,” “values,” and “leadership principles.”” (A Jesus Manifesto for the 21st Century Church, 2009)
I would add, God language and the problem of evil: theodicy. There is God-talk aplenty about how we should define, understand, demarcate and domesticate God. We weigh countless intercessions and demands upon God our cosmic bellhop- what he should do for us, why does he not do our bidding when we ask, why does he allow bad things to happen to good people…and on and on and on.
When can do something, we can pray more and more about what we can be doing and being as Christians, his followers, on behalf of our Savior, Jesus Christ, we can do a great deal in our world to glorify him.
Recall the words of a Gospel Hymn popularized by Elvis, We Call on Him.
We call on Him
Whenever storm clouds gather
We call on Him to light our darkest day
Why must it be that only when we’re lonely
And hopes are dim, we call on Him
Why don’t we call on Him before we lose our way
To count our blessings and thank Him while we may
Sweet & Viola suggest that we focus on Jesus:
The center and circumference of the Christian life is none other than the person of Christ. All other things, including things related to him and about him, are eclipsed by the sight of his peerless worth. Knowing Christ is Eternal Life. And knowing him profoundly, deeply, and in reality, as well as experiencing his unsearchable riches, is the chief pursuit of our lives, as it was for the first Christians. God is not so much about fixing things that have gone wrong in our lives as finding us in our brokenness and giving us Christ.
- XNTY ROKZ!
Jesus says we are here to be salt and light. This is often inferred to mean that Jesus is calling us to quarrel with culture, lay down the law, throw the book at, stand firm against, oppose and become stoic. The urban dictionary defines salty – to be angry, infuriated, or annoyed. We have experienced these “salty” types and they are not Jesus’ Christians. This is very far from the truth. Jesus said that we are to bring good news not bad news to God’s good earth and people. God is emphatic in pronouncing every aspect of his creation not just good but very good!
It is very good news that the darkness does not overcome the light, God is light and Jesus is the light of the world, our world.
Salt and Light (Matthew 5: 13-16 MSG)
13“Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You’ve lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage.
14-16“Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.
Jesus is not calling us to be ordinary but extraordinary…astonishing in how we pray, worship, celebrate, behave, live, love, and die.
We cannot do this alone, but if we follow Jesus, we shall not walk in darkness but have the light of life…eternal life.
If we follow his way, he will help us and we will in turn help each other, this is community, Jesus’ community, the community of Christians.