Whenever I’ve been involved in almost any form of outreach ministry, I’ve always run into those people who say to me, “I can have a relationship with God, or I can have a relationship with people, but I can’t do both. I can worship God quite well in my back yard, thank you. I don’t need a building.”
To be blunt, this approach to theology not only doesn’t work, it’s a lie. Jesus said, “love your God with all your heart, AND love your neighbor as yourself.” (We tend to ignore that second part.) He also said, “take up your cross and follow me.” (We REALLY want to ignore that one.)
Why? How does that actually apply to us?
First, it’s easy to say “today I’m going to improve somebody’s life – I’m going to bring some lucky person truth and love, harmony and grace, I’m going to give this sorry individual something truly wonderful – me!” (So … okay … maybe we don’t put it EXACTLY that way, but … if we are truly honest, we figure we’ve got it more together than the human jetsam with whom we are dealing. If we were truly honest we’d say that.)
The hard fact is this; it’s a two-way street. Not only are we supposed to go out, but we are also supposed to open the front door and invite the hypocrites IN. “No, really, I insist. Have a seat. Sure, you can put your feet on my coffee table. No problem.” It’s called an invasion of our personal private space. It’s called giving beyond tokenism. It’s called accountability – and to people who are our inferiors (and maybe a little scary), at that.
And here’s the funny part. God’s world is often backwards from our own. We are supposed to reach out to others because it’s beneficial to us. When we extend grace and mercy to people who are truly unworthy, maybe … maybe maybe maybe we get some small idea of what it’s like when God extends grace and mercy to us.
On my own, with all of my falls.
3 years ago