The Message, The Method, and the Minister's Wife

There is something that I've been "mulling" over for several days. It's raw, so if you can't handle it, stop reading. And let me go ahead now and provide this disclaimer that the thoughts and opinions expressed here do not directly reflect or relate to any friends, family members, church(es), nor are they the opinions of any friends, family members, church(es), etc.

I will attempt to put my thoughts down on "paper" and may not do it so eloquently, and for that, I apologize. Bear with me as I try to make some sense out of the thoughts and feelings that have been bouncing around in my head. I am not saying that the opinions I express are right in any way, but they are honest. They are as honest as I know how to be.

We are taught so much about being "in" the world, not "of" it. Sanctification...being "set apart" for holiness. I was raised in the Independent Baptist church. Although not on the extreme end of legalism, it did have the tendency to lean in that direction. For the past 15 or so years, I've been a member of the Southern Baptist denomination of churches. {Sidenote: I really don't like the denomination "labels"}. I digress.

Lately, I look around and wonder what we are doing. I have to admit that I am struggling with some disillusionment. A little background. Two years ago, I was extremely hurt in a church and by a Pastor that proclaimed to be a Bible-believing, Word-of-God teaching pastor. This man was a liar. He stood in the pulpit, of God's church, and told lies, one right after the other. And the people, hearing and knowing the truth, still turned a blind eye and chose to follow him. How? I couldn't understand how the people of God's church could become so complacent that they ignored the lies and moved on. That was the beginning of the downward spiral from which I can't seem to recover. That was the beginning of this wall I've built around me, stone by stone, filled with the mortar of resentment.

But back to my original thoughts. So often we get so focused on not being "of" the world that we alienate the very ones Jesus came to save. John 3:17 says "For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him." We sit in our church pews, with a "check-mark" in our attendance column, and look down on those that don't attend on a regular basis. We pride ourselves in not catering to the world by canceling Sunday night church on Super Bowl Sunday...but how many people did we reach that night? "Oh, but we were in church!" How much more effective would it be to take that same group of people outside the four walls of the church to saturate the neighborhood with The Message of God's love and forgiveness? Isn't that having church? Isn't that what it's all about?

Some churches have revival once a year. They invite a guest speaker, meet several nights during the week, the regular attenders sit in their usual spots, some songs, hear some preaching and call it "revival". Maybe some hearts are stirred, maybe emotions run high, but how long does it last? Until the following year when they invite another speaker back for yet another "revival"? Webster's describes the word "revival" as follows: a renewed attention to or interest in something. To me, revival would be a renewed attention to the Great Commission. Go ye INTO all the world and preach the gospel. Take the revival out of the four walls of the church and take it into the world. We go to church every time the doors are open. We have our "gold star" in attendance, but haven't shared the truth of God's love with our next-door neighbors. We back out of our driveways on our way to church and wave to our neighbor's that are one step closer to spending an eternity without Christ. There's something terribly wrong with this picture.

The most judgmental people can be found in the church pews. We say we "love" everybody, but honestly, if someone walked into the church looking like a strung-out drug addict, or dressed like a prostitute, would we extend arms of unconditional love or would we lower our heads and whisper to our neighbor to catch a glimpse of what just walked in? We can be so judgmental, like the Pharisees were. When Jesus was having dinner at Levi's house, many of the tax collectors and sinners were eating with him and the disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they couldn't believe that Jesus would sit at the same table with these people. Jesus' response was this, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners." The Message has not changed, but the Method in which it is delivered must continue to evolve. We have to take the Message of Christ and make it relevant to a lost world. That means, we live it every day, outside of the church, we take it to them, wherever they are. Christ was the ultimate example of that for us.

I recently saw a Nightline segment on XXX Church and JC's Girls. I have to admit that initially I was a little taken back by their methods. But then I listened to their message. I listened to their testimonies and realized they are living out The Great Commission. They are taking the message of Christ's unconditional love directly to the people who need it, while we sit comfortably within the four walls of our church, probably judging their methods based on a "set of rules" we think are acceptable and not acceptable. But rules do not make us God's and rule-breaking does not deny us God's grace.

In closing, let me just say this...I cannot measure up--none of us can. Not today, not tomorrow, not ever. Yes, I'm a minister's wife. Yes, I was raised a missionary kid. But none of that matters. Here's the bottom line, my attendance in church will not earn me a "pass" to heaven. Any amount of giving won't get me a "gold star". What matters is that I have accepted Christ as my personal Savior, so unworthy and undeserving of His salvation and yet His grace is extended to me each and every day. What matters most is my relationship with Him, daily, not just Sundays, and my relationship with others. What have I done to further His kingdom? If I'm honest, I'd have to say "not much". I can sit in church and "report" the fact that I was there, but can I look around and see a friend I invited, or someone I led to the Lord?

The Message is unchanged. The Method for reaching a lost world must change.

8 sweet friends had to say...:

musicaljean said...

I came to your blog from justabeachkat's. Wow, realestategirl, you and I could talk for hours. I was raised in a very legalistic environment, but have been very stretched by being a foster parent of "street" teenagers for many years. I have come to see many, many things from "the other side", and many times we (the church) are not a very pretty picture. Jesus' unconditional love reached the people where they were when He was here on earth, and that is still true today. Good for you for being willing to think outside the box.

justabeachkat said...

Wow...what a great post. I TOTALLY agree. I think alot of "church" people are less christian than some who never enter the church door. I love my church and I love to attend, but I personally believe that I can worship anywhere, anytime (walking on the beach, sitting by the pool, etc.). I know my God knows what is in my heart and it's really just between Him and me. Your post was well written. Congrats!

Precious said...

vGreat post, realestategirl. I have never been in a legalistic church nor was I brought up in one, but was always taught that we can never get to heaven by good works.

However, not until I was teaching in a Christian school recently did I get a taste of God working through me. (And I am 62 and just learning what it really means to abide in the vine) At this school I was horribly mistreated. I call it the "crushing." But because I was scared to death to go to school each day knowing that the administrator was doing his best to get rid of me, I went very early in the dark mornings, walked and prayed in the dark gym, for God to fill me with his Holy Spirit. As a result of that, most of my students prayed to receive Jesus and God was glorified. Am I bitter? Not for one moment. I wouldn't take anything for that experience because I saw God do a work I could never have done. It is called dying to self so that God can do His work.

All of us need a "crushing." A breaking that causes us to die from our own "good service" to God and let the Holy Spirit do His work.

This story gets longer, but I will stop here to say, Amen to your post. God bless you as you work through the thoughts God is helping you work through.

Precious said...

I bet you are wondering why I typed a "v". Me too, I don't know where it came from. It wasn't on my original post.

"V's", messages in my tea ~ this is getting scary!

Oh, I bet I know. The first time I tried to post comment, it would not accept it. When I tried again, I wondered where my typing went and I bet it went on the paragraph. SHEESH!

I hope that my day goes better than this. I think I will go have a cup of tea!

Precious said...

Take a look at this site and tell us what you think. As I listened to the men who are involved in getting the message out to these people, I believe that God has chosen them for a great mission.

http://www.ragamuffinsoul.com/?p=901#comments

Not everyone is called to such a mission. I have seen men of God pulled down into the same muck they were trying to get others out of.

Di-dan said...

I am not boycotting your blog. I left a comment a few days ago on the one before the M & M one, so it hasn't been that long! I actually started a comment about this one before anyone else last night, but I have more to say on this topic than you might want to hear, so I decided not to leave it. Why are you giving me such a hard time lately? 4.2 seconds x 2 x 7 still equals less than a minute a week! :-)

RealEstateGirl said...

Thanks for all the comments and the encouragement. I really do look forward to checking in on my new blogger friends and love hearing your comments too!

I have been reading ragamuffin's blog ever since I found it on Beachkat's. Love his site! They are definately doing something right out there in Riverside!

David said...

Awesome word.
I wish that Christians could see that formulas and methods are no replacement for a relationship with a living God.
Bless you, my sister

 
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