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The Light AND Salt pt 2

So (as I was asking)... do elections mater? Do our communities matter? Do policies which affect those we're claiming to love with the love of Jesus matter?

Elections happen to matter because the "church" is a collective of people made in God's image and we're supposed to love our neighbors. If my neighbors are being shot up on the street corners or if 64% of my "neighbors" are not getting an education... I'd say everything that affects that reality should matter. But instead we insulate and isolate ourselves from the realities of people's lives.

It should matter if we care about our fellow man.
It should matter that we care about every aspect of what makes a person's life livable. I say it matters unless we throw out half of our bible. Are elections alone the solution? No. Are politicians to be compared with a savior? No. Are pulpits to be used as campaign platforms? No. But should we as Christians be involved in any and every avenue in society we can use to bring about the change we pray for? Yes.

Government, Business, Athletics, Music... all of it can and should be an opportunity to spread the hope and message of Christ that we proclaim on Sundays.
It is my faith that tells me that the entirety of my being is to be surrendered to the truth of scripture. The OT law is filled with concern for the poor, for punishing criminals, for hygiene and health. God the father OBVIOUSLY cares about these things because they affect people MADE IN HIS IMAGE. Our entire communities should be transformed when disciples are unleashed to make a difference in their world (with or without an organized church campaign).

My concern is that the church here in the West continues to live under voluntary segregation from the people we're trying to reach.
Our music and some presentation in our best churches has come a long way but we have a way to go. I believe the average person in the auditorium still needs to understand that we have to get to a point where we are broken for the people in our communities. That is incarnational ministry. This is one of the most amazing aspects of Christ... "And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth." ~John 1:14

So it is that I have a hard time understanding how the modern church views our role as only to preach salvation for when we die but little transformation in the communities in which we live.
I went on a 'mission trip' in NYC in July of 2001 just before 9/11. The trip was already arranged before I came on staff so I inherited the experience. Effectively the ministry was 400 white teens invading NYC for a week to "preach the gospel". Our assignment every day was to go to a different borough of the city and try to cold-turkey evangelize the 'lost'. Can you see the picture? Groups of 30 white kids getting off of the subway and walking into Harlem to tell them that their lives would be all better if they'd read a piece of paper and pray a prayer. Then we'd all walk back to the subway and make our way back to a nice hotel across from Madison Square Garden while the people we were 'ministering to' remained in the same communities hearing the same gun shots and their kids played in the same glass and drug infested playgrounds. That's ultimately what we do when we focus solely on the verbal aspect of the gospel and ignore the communities around us and the avenues under which we could make a difference.

What about where our 'neighbors' live? Will their kids have any food? Will they be the victim of a drive-by shooting? Will a husband beat his wife? Are the children receiving an education? Does anyone care? Are the systems set up to help or hurt our communities? Maybe not where you are from... but where I'm from these are realities. I bet where you're from there are policies that hurt people as well. Our cities (and rural communities) are falling apart folks. If we care, everything matters. Every action, addiction or behavior that causes people to experience hell on earth should be confronted. Jesus matters. His Salvation and his Kingdom matters.

We were taught to pray "Your Kingdom Come" but we act like "Your Kingdom can Wait."


Please understand, I am not preaching a social gospel. I'm preaching the gospel of Jesus being carried out with every breath by every follower of Christ. If our people could see that "church" isn't a place or activity... but truly the people of God on earth, they'd see that the tracts they are leaving cannot be read because in places like Baltimore kids don't get educated and most adults have a 9th grade education. If our people were taught to allow Jesus to work through varied avenues in society they'd see that when a kid goes to bed hungry or hurting they find it pretty hard to believe in Jesus. When a kid is afraid of going to school where is Jesus? When there is domestic violence in the home or drugs in the neighborhood... how can they see Jesus?

Shouldn't they be able to see Jesus in us?
If Jesus flipped out over tables in the temple because people allowed it to become a den of thieves... I wonder what he'd think about His church becoming a silent partner in the drug trade or poverty or political corruption. I wonder if in His eyes it is noble to ignore the avenues of social networks that already exist.

Maybe all that matters is growing a huge church and seeing people accept Christ but what if the church was the starting point to seeing cities transformed by what the gospel does to a people when the Holy Spirit is present in hundreds or thousands of people all at one time?
Ohh yeah... we saw what happened in Acts...

I think if we were to commission the layperson as a missionary within their social network (government, job, kids sports, etc.) that we'd start to see transformation which makes an environment more conducive for people to see the effects of the gospel on a society. I also think this type of transformational living would cause a lot more of the world to ask what our hope is all about.

"15But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander." ~1 Peter 3:15-16

Why do I care? Why am I so passionate about this?

I suppose at the end of the day I just sincerely hope we don't continue to react to the previous generation or the social gospel theology... but find the middle ground where the people of Jesus take the message of Jesus with them into every avenue of their lives and see their community transformed as a result of having a very real and very doctrinally sound relationship with the living God.

posted by Tally Wilgis @ Friday, April 04, 2008

1 Comments:

At 12:05 AM, Blogger Cristy Trevino said...

YES! Raw truth...thanks for being the one to say it!

 

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