Recently I became aware of a sculpture by Dennis Oppenheim of an upside church building. I’m not sure of all of his motives in the art but it describes something that has been on my mind for the last few weeks. Jesus clearly taught a gospel that was upside down when placed along side the culture, but it is my conviction that the “church” is upside down in the wrong way.
We sing about God’s love. We preach about God’s love. We get emotional about God’s love. We dance around and play our guitars and beat our drums about God’s love . . . and than we do just the opposite. When someone screws up that has been a part of our fellowship of believers we apparently struggle to keep on loving.
From both personal experience and from watching now with more sensitivity to this issue I am truly blown away. Sadly I think I was the same way. Excise the problem. Ignore it and it will go away. Move on. Maintain the purity of the church. Shun, boycott and protect God at all cost.
God doesn’t need our protection. God has never had a problem publishing the dirty laundry of the bible. He doesn’t celebrate it but He doesn’t run from it or pretend it didn’t happen either. He always offered a way out and forgiveness. He always longs for reconciliation. Life is messy and people are even messier.
Love overcomes. . .
God’s love will allow you to overcome your emotions about the fallen and broken.
God’s love will motivate you to move closer to the broken and not further away.
God’s love will give you no options but to love and proactively show grace.
God’s love is not optional and you church, are supposed to be His body on this earth.
So what do you do with the person that you invested so much time and effort into. You gave to help them but in the end they made bad choices and they are in trouble now for real. Their proverbial wheels have fallen off . . . so what will you do? What have you done? Will you dust off you hands and move away from them now?! Will you sever all ties so that you don’t have to deal with the pain they personally caused you? Thank God, that Jesus didn’t shy away from His execution or the personal pain our sins caused Him. In fact Paul writes in Romans 5,
For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
To turn the church in the right direction we must start thinking in these terms. We must think and process people’s actions through the lens of scripture and not our feelings. We must represent Christ in the gutters, the prisons, the country club and everywhere in between. Where is the fallen person you walked away from today? Where do you need to go to allow God to love through you? When people are at their lowest and broken the worst is when they need the church the most but in many cases especially among the professionals or God protectors they are nowhere to be found.
Take off your robes of self-righteousness and wade into the murky mess to love the unlovable if you need to. Most of the time it is not even that dramatic but it takes God’s love in your heart and more than a song or sermon on a Sunday morning. It will take effort and intention to love the broken.
Dan Pearce wrote, “The next time you want to withhold your help, or your love, or your support for another for whatever the reason, ask yourself a simple question: do the reasons you want to withhold it reflect more on them or on you? And which reasons do you want defining you forevermore?”
Christianity in much of the world but especially in America has been labeled a religion of hate. We do often shoot our wounded. We have done much to gain this reputation as unfair as it may seem to us. My motivation for this blog is actually rooted in another person’s story not mine. God provided people from unlikely places for me and continues to do so on a daily basis. I worry though about the church . . . I worry about what we have turned it into.
If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.
If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing.
If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.
Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.
Love never dies. 1 Corinthians 13:1-7 The Message