The Father is stirring in His children. He's moving us to the next level. He is doing a healing work in us and moving us out to share that healing work with a hurting world. He's called (and is calling) us to be His witnesses in the earth. Our local body here has been teaching on this subject for a few weeks now, and in my spirit, I sense that Jesus "is on the move" (only Lewis nerds will get that reference).
As a follower of Jesus for most of my young life, I have given witness of Him more than once. Sadly, many of those moments of witness were reduced to a formula, a prayer, and a rote confession. I see those I shared it with, and sadly, no evidence of fruit remains. Why is this?
In the Christianity I've grown up in, I've seen the Body separate themselves from their culture in such a way that when they try to encounter it with the Good News, they fail miserably. I feel we've become arrogant. We've really believed we're better than the rest of the world because we have been redeemed (thereby missing the fact that we were redeemed because we NEEDED to be). We rush out our door condemning people for their sins, organizing rallies against them for their sin and never holding out the Word of Life.
Somethin' has gotta give.
Being Jesus to people means denying ourselves. It means becoming like people "to win some". We can't reach people when we elevate ourselves above them. We've got to embrace our culture--not wage a war against it. I'm NOT saying that we need to embrace the sins of our culture. Culture is " the sum total of ways of living built up by a group of human beings and transmitted from one generation to another" (dictionary.com). Some of these ways obviously involve sin, but if it means that you decide to live on the street with homeless people to reach homeless people (like Mike Yankoski), then by all means, embrace that part of our culture.
For far too long, the church has viewed themselves as the "city on a hill" that is cloistered and secluded on a hill--not the city on a hill THAT CAN'T BE HIDDEN. We have to stop hiding and setting ourselves apart unto ourselves. We are to be set apart unto God, living FOR Him--being His hands and feet IN THE WORLD.
Being a witness means being a martyr. It's actually the same word in the Greek. Now, I know you're thinking, "A martyr? Really?" Well, the chances of you being a martyr for Jesus in America is not too realistic at present, but how about being a metaphorical martyr? How about DYING TO YOURSELF? How about forsaking your lifestyle, your money, your traditions in order to reach those who live on the fringe? The untouchables of our society are desperate for LIFE. And instead of preaching condemnation, how about we preach eternal life? How about preaching grace? Love? Hope? Most people in this country have had more than enough of condemnation. Most of them know about hell. Let's stop selling tickets out of hell and start holding out the Word of LIFE.
I do believe in hell. I do believe in sin. I believe salvation from sin is through faith in Christ alone. I just don't think the way we've beat people over the head with it has been effective. I think we must LOVE them and SEE them as our Father does. Jesus' attitude towards the downtrodden was much different than it was to the self-righteous. He wasn't preaching hellfire and brimstone to the weak and weary, it was to those who thought they didn't need Him. They were comfortable with their rules and false trust in their own morality to save them.
America doesn't need more morality without Jesus. It needs Jesus first. The Body needs to take Jesus to people--not rules, not denomination, not disputable doctrines--Jesus, the Risen Lamb of God, slain for them. They really need to see His love. Most people do not equate Christianity with love these days. If that is the case, then we have missed it ourselves. I'm not talking tolerance--I'm talking LOVE. You can stand against evil without standing against people. We've got to love people, baggage and all. Let Jesus change them. Begin with Jesus, and trust Him to do a work in them.
Somethin's gotta give, people.
It's us. We've got to give up our agendas, our prejudices, our spirits of offense, our distaste with the unlovely, our pride in our religion, our very way of life. I'm amazed that Jesus laid aside His glory to come walk among us, the Word made flesh. He became like us to win us. We've got to do the same.
What's that going to look like for you?