Friday, August 04, 2006

In the World But Not of the World

Walls separate believers from non-believers (and also the formerly churched). There are all kinds of walls that the church puts up: we have our own language, most churches have an unwritten dress code, we are one of the few places where people sing songs that are 200 – 300 years old, and the list could go on. However, the most challenging wall that the church constructs is in fact the walls that enclose our buildings.

Our citizenship is in a kingdom that is not of this world; our citizenship is in the Kingdom of God. Our earthly passport should read “resident alien.” The passport could read “ambassador from the Kingdom of God.” WE ARE NOT OF THIS WORLD.

Our problem is that we have so separated ourselves from the world that we do not intersect with world—interact with people in the world to share the good news of Jesus. We are like a secret society. We hide behind walls like a secret society. We gather together each week to sing, pray, study and talk about sharing the Gospel of Christ. Yet, all of this goes on behind our walls. This failure to intersect with the unchurched continues after we leave the church building. The longer that a person is a Christian the less time they spend with non-believers. At least one Christian writer has said that we are cheating our brothers and sisters out of their spiritual growth when we spend time with unbelievers. This kind of thinking seems to reinforce our ignoring of those who don’t follow Christ. The problem is that the New Testament is full of examples where we are told to go into the world to share the Gospel.

Moving beyond our walls can be scary. It is like going into a foreign land. The culture is different. The language is different. THINGS ARE DIFFERENT.

Have you ever witnessed people from the USA as they travel in foreign lands? It can be embarrassing. I have traveled to the British Virgin Islands a couple of times to go sailing. It is considered very inappropriate for a woman to wear a swimsuit or a man to be shirtless away from the pool, boat, beach or beach bar. Yet, every time I see many thoughtless American tourists dressing in ways that are inappropriate for the culture they are visiting. I have seen people from the USA being exceptionally rude to waiters, waitresses and shop keepers. People from the USA seem to forget that they are visitors to a foreign land. Things are different in a foreign land.

We need not fear going out into the world. Christ commanded us to go into the world and he said that he would never leave us. So, he ventures into the world with us. We need to go beyond the walls of our church and interact with the people of this world. As pastors we need to live this and preach it. Move our Bible studies to venues away from the church building; hold our committee meetings in coffee shops and restaurants. GET OUT OF THE BUILDING!


At 8:24 PM , Blogger Presbyterian Gal said...

Hi Full Court,
You speak revolutionary words here. Yet they're the same challenges Jesus and Paul gave us. Thanks.

By the way, how is your "Church without Walls" program going? I find it a truly inspired and needed idea. I've told my mom and other church friends about it here in So. Calif. I pray for it and hope it catches fire.

At 2:37 PM , Blogger Presbyterian Gal said...

Hmmmm. Perhaps"catches fire" was not the best descriptive wish. Let me change that to "hope it spreads like wildfire". Thanks.

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