This, you could say is a continuation of last week’s post, but taken from a different angle. Last week, I looked at the early Christian Church found in Acts 2. While I wish I could say that I best belong in that church, I cannot. Therefore, I will look at the Church as it is today, but from the perspective of those on the outside looking in. In other words, how does the Church appear to the outsider?
I think about the verse in Acts 2 where it says, they had favor with all the people and people were being added to their numbers daily. I do not see this at all today, but why is this? I’ve gotta be honest here. It’s because I as a member of the body that is the Church, am unloving. I miss the fact that right before the having favor with everyone, the Church was filled with people with glad hearts and who were praising God. Hmm…noticing something missing? How about all the above? I think this is a serious problem. However, as I concluded last week, it’s not up to me to fix this. Sure, I should desire for the problem to be fixed, but other than prayer, which is another post in and of itself, it is not mine to solve.
Where is the other point of view I mentioned? Let’s look at how this plays out for the outsiders and those looking to work their way into the community. They can’t. I see these people and immediately I judge them based on their appearance. The guy who looks rather unkempt, but may be the nicest guy you’ve ever met in your life, yeah, I deem him unworthy of getting to know. Why, because I’m a jerk. More constructively, I secretly want to feel that I am better than someone. I do not seek out those who don’t readily have something in common with myself. That’s far too much work for someone only seeking personal glory. Even personal glory has its limits. Then, I judge those who do seek out others. I judge those going into the places that I’m less apt to frequent. Conversely, I judge those who don’t go to the places or do what I do when I do actually attempt to seek out people. I’m just going to say it here, the greatest commandment isn’t worth the value of the paper it’s printed on. This is what my actions convey.
If I am to portray Christ to the world, then here’s what He must be. First of all, He’s highly apathetic. He’s so apathetic, He might as well be hateful of others. He’s self-consumed. The only person He cares about is Himself. Jesus must only care about those who’ve somehow broken through the thick ice and become His best friends. Really, He’s friends with people who continuously keep trying to get to know Him without any reciprocal initiative. Jesus also must have played it safe, only going to places that would be considered wholesome and safe. He never hung out in potentially shady places with people society looked down upon, ever. Finally, Jesus was friends with everyone because He never rocked the proverbial boat. Basically, Jesus was about as bland, white and American as anyone could hope or imagine.
I don’t know about you, but to me, a faith placed in this Jesus seems less than inane. Who is this valium-induced caricature of a religious leader? It must be the suburban white boy-ness in me coming out. Last time I checked, Jesus was very active traversing the countryside speaking and seeking out crowds (Matthew 4:23). All over the Gospels He is going here and there, healing (even on the Sabbath, gasp!), teaching and loving. Even the rich man who had kept all the commandments, but was attached to his wealth, it says Jesus loved him (Mark 10:21). Actually, just search the phrase “Jesus loved” and you’ll get an idea that there is evidence all over the Gospels that Jesus loved everyone. Everyone. Jesus was also accused of being a glutton and a drunkard. Why? He hung out with the gluttons and drunkards (Luke 7:34). That verse also mentions tax collectors. In today’s society, Jesus might have well hung out at whore and crack houses. In that society, Jesus could not have spent time loving anyone lower in social status, including the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4:1–45). Finally, Jesus was a revolutionary unafraid of rocking the boat. Have you read about Him cleansing the Temple recently (Matthew 21:12–17)? Jesus came to shake things up…a lot (Luke 12:51).
The point I’m trying to drive home here is the Church is unwelcoming today. Why? Because the people that make up the Church are unwelcoming. If we want to see the Church change, we first have to start with ourselves. I can pray all I want for God to be conforming it to the bride of Christ she is to be (Ephesians 5:25–27), but that will not come about unless I myself am working to become the change I seek. In the same breath that I am praying to see change in the Church, I will be praying for God to work on my own heart, constantly conforming it to one of obedience and meekness, seeking His glory first.