Every day I am a little more convinced that we see and understand the Church and the Kingdom of God all wrong. We have taken what Jesus birthed and we have dressed it up in familiar clothes so that we can understand it better. There may not be anything wrong with understanding the Church in the current age of our society but when we allow that to change the character of the Church, the character of our relationship with Jesus and our perception of God's character there is indeed a problem.
There are certain things that stand out for me from the Scriptures that tell me our current business-like approach to the Church is all wrong. Jesus tells us that those born of the Spirit are like the wind, coming and going with great freedom. That requires us to be attached to nothing in this place. When we see the family-like atmosphere of the believers, having everything in common and being added to daily it gives me pause to consider our corporate structure. When I hear Jesus teaching that our love for him must be greater than any other and that we are not citizens here but instead ambassadors for the Kingdom, I feel we have become distracted. When I read about the power of the Church and then witness how much we operate in the flesh I feel we have missed out. We are intended to be so much more than what we have become.
Today we work hard to be professional in all we do and there is nothing wrong in doing our best in everything, but as we work toward acceptability we lose our flexibility and purpose. We lose our essence and our identity. Reputation begins to take on new meaning and image is everything. We become afraid to pray over the sick and dying or even the dead because what if it doesn't work? What if it ruins our reputation? We become afraid to share the truth of the Good News because it might offend and we might be rejected. We would rather be known as a counselor than as a "Bible thumper". We want to get our reputation and image fixed in caste iron, never changing, always the same, fixed in time and space. Doesn't sound like the wind to me.
Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings. (1 Corinthians 9:19-23)
Could you imagine living your life like that, changing according to the company you hang out with? Maybe some of you do that but I am not talking about changing your character. Paul is not saying that he gets drunk to save the drunk or sleep with prostitutes to save prostitutes. He is talking about limiting his freedom in Jesus in order to save those who are limited. He remains compassionate, full of grace, forgiving, abounding in love. His character in Jesus is fixed but the things he does changes. We often don't think like this, always doing what pleases ourselves, what we think is right and seldom consider the person we are with or the culture that we are in.
We have to face the fact that for the most part we are selfish and serve ourselves instead of others. We think we have a servant heart but often we do things for others that are convenient for us or are things we enjoy doing anyway. We love those who love us. We give to those we know will in turn do something for us. Where is the challenge in that Jesus says. Love those who hate you. Give to those who cannot return the favor. Give yourself to others, limit your freedoms, do whatever you must in order to bring them to Jesus.
One of the sins we commit the most is when we limit the Spirit in us. We do it when we say, "I can't evangelize, that's just not me". What does obedience have to do with what makes us feel comfortable? If you are not compelled to share the Good News with the lost you need to examine your relationship with Jesus. People don't share the Good News because it fits their personality. They do it because they are convinced that one died for all and they are compelled by the love of Jesus Christ. It doesn't matter if it doesn't fit my personality, I can't keep such an incredible love chained up inside of me to be enjoyed only by me. That is incredibly selfish! No, it is such a great love I must share it with everyone, and use whatever method I can to convince them, even if it means limiting myself to do so, losing my reputation if I must.
It is about time that we begin to live in the reality that man's traditions do not define me. I am not defined by these things because my identity is found in Jesus Christ. He defines me and I belong to him and not this place. I will not allow a desire for riches or fame to be my motivation because they have no hold on me. My only motivation, they only thing that compels me and moves me forward is the love of Jesus. Not my pathetic love for him but his unfailing, rich, overpowering, life changing, healing, renewing, colourful, vibrant love for me. It is by this love that I throw off everything that hinders including my own opinions and say with Paul:
I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some.