What's going on with Christianity: yours, mine, and ours? I wonder if the Great Commission has been hijacked. While many congregations (including where I reside) emphasize some outreach, there is magnanimous and united focus on the part of general Christianity to see that we do church right. Translation? Churches are doing and saying biblical things inside of our unbiblical church buildings at the expense of setting God's front-burner goal on the back burner. Considering the most basic believer, how much of his time and meaning involve (not a hint of outgoing, but) choosing up sides for the perpetual religious tug-o-war of Which kind of church does the most things right?
Abe Lincoln (not the President but a Christian leader from Lubbock) sat in a meeting with elders and me one Saturday afternoon to help us wade through church philosophy and standards (arguments). He made a statement I could not understand at the time. Eventually I realized his profound, yet seeming backward, observation. He said that our doctrines will change when we take our faith out into the community. My thought was, If truth is the truth, why would it change on the street? That's still a good question and I've discovered the answer.
Until the church takes the Good News out, it has nowhere to arise to its intended purpose. The Good News is designed to bring life to the lifeless, hope to the poor, and recovery to the sabotaged. When boarded up within church walls, eventually the good news becomes merely a topic for monotonous debate with undertones to most members of, This ain't ever going to go anywhere. Quarter upon quarter and decade upon decade we keep circling the same protective wagons, while avoiding the adventurous trail of purpose and meaningful service toward others.
As a result, churches have shifted His message of hope to theirs of a lesser standard. Come join us and let's go nowhere together! has become the weak word toward a pleading-for-something-which-could-help society. Churches (all brands and shapes) have sucked the air out of His great commission and, therefore, have been forced to scramble for something (anything) of substitutional interest.
Can the drive of the church be re-inflated? Absolutely. We have a wonderful future in our presence! From experience I can attest to the accuracy of Abe Lincoln's bewildering comments. Every time we make a move into any community to offer hope rather than distancing judgment, our doctrine of what we really count to be meaningful arises. Jesus was on target. If we will lose our lives for the sake of others, we'll discover ourselves coming alive. If, however, we sit in church houses and play-it-safe we will find the air going out of our faith. Eventually, we will not be able to breathe. Finally, as Jesus promised, we will die.
Got life? Want to give life? Put some air back into your faith. Buy a barefoot child a pair of shoes. Stand in line at McDonalds and buy a poor family a warm breakfast. Acknowledge a toothless old woman who walks as if she doesn't have a friend in the world. Look outwardly. See people in need. Risk. Replace judgmental rolling of the eyes with extending helping hands in a community which so needs someone, just one someone, to applaud.