“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:14-16 (NIV)
Wednesday, July 06, 2011
Separation of Church & Hate
I am a recovering political news junkie. Before children my car was always playing talk radio and I spent a fair bit of time switching channels to hear from the various talking heads about what new scandal or movement I should be concerned with next.
Once children entered the picture, I quickly began to prefer less noisy media. I still try to stay informed, but it is primarily through reading (ahem, skimming). Call me ignorant or lazy, but I just grew weary of the hysteria and was tired of the weight of fearing that the sky was falling. I became disenchanted with the thought that the opinion of a little housewife in Georgia could ever make any sort of impact--and frankly, I never felt I could trust any source completely enough to formulate a confident opinion. I care about the impact policies have on people, but I detest the frenzy and the fighting.
When Andy Stanley tackled this subject from a Biblical worldview this weekend, it really put to words many of the things I have been pondering for a couple of years. At the risk of being viewed a someone rude enough to text in church, I snagged my husband's phone and furiously tapped away to record notes. Here are a few (dozen) bullet points:
* Red vs. blue, Left vs. Right, Neighbor vs. Neighbor
* The Lord doesn't 'take sides,' He is His own side.
* Throughout the New Testament, Jesus and Paul were FOR more things than they were AGAINST. The primary thing they were against were people who were against everything (Pharisees).
* Are you more concerned with making a POINT or making a DIFFERENCE?
*It is always easier to make a point than a difference, but simply telling someone they are wrong doesn't equip them OR inspire them to do what is right. It just makes the people making the point feel better.
* If you want to make a difference, you can't just sit back in your comfortable little group of people who already agree with your point. You must lean relationally in the direction of the people who you disagree with the most.
* Jesus and his followers were always at odds with the religious people. Their theology lined up exactly, but they were at odds over their methodology.
* Neither Jesus nor Paul were concerned about guilt by association (this is NOT a parenting strategy--it is an adult outreach strategy). Jesus knew their sin would eventually kill him. He was NOT for their sin. He was for them.
* This approach will cause us to be extraordinarily misunderstood.
* It is OK to refuse to be dragged into debates that distract from the primary issue (The Gospel) There are some questions you don't need to answer, lest you be taunted into a debate you aren't ready for.
* Don't judge non-believers for behaving like non-believers. They don't profess the same worldview. What do you expect them to act like? Rather than policing the behavior of people who do not believe what we believe, spend that energy on what YOU should be doing: Loving one another.
* The church has missed this over & over.
* We should stop throwing sparklers out into the dark and just BE light. Not through leaflets or billboards or PSAs (or blog posts :-) but through practice.
* The mission of the church is not to return us to 18th century morality, it is to make Jesus known. Jesus is the only thing that will change things.
* What makes our message attractional is the way we live our lives. Follow the model of Jesus & Paul...have a lot of conversations. Walk towards the messes rather than away, because every one of us either is a mess, was a mess or will be a mess.
* Jesus didn't come to make a point. He came to make a difference. Make your point by making a difference. It is not about saving America, it is about saving Americans.
For the whole message, click here...
Through my dabblings in volunteer social work I have learned it takes a WHOLE lot to change policies or a system. It takes FAR LESS to invest in real people and positively impact lives.
I am far too opinionated (as wired by my Creator) and passionate to give up on making points...but I am humbled by the reminder that making a difference in the life of my neighbor may be the most effective way to make a point of all.