by Jerrod Rumley
There is a growing concern to just be against something. It's not recent, but certainly it's not healthy.
Within the church, I am seeing more and more pastors and lay people opposing something rather than promoting something. I come from a long line of antagonists. I grew up in the religious south, the capital for apathy in the name Jesus. So I can identify. But I don't want to let a hardened heart develop toward people, wherever they are.
I've spent the last few weeks in Luke 15. There is a wealth of writing and commentary on this chapter; the insights I have gained from the Word have been deep and profound. One realization was the love Jesus had for people. Whether they were loathed or religious conservatives, Jesus loved them. He loved them by accepting them into the fellowship of a meal, or He loved them enough to confront them with drastic theology insights, shocking them and stirring them.
Reflecting on this passage, I remembered a time when I was a young boy. I was a hyper, opinionated antagonist. Even in that, there were men who loved me. Coaches who pushed me to work on the fundamentals and sold me on the idea that character counts, even in sports. Men like my Sunday school teacher Arlan, who prayed for me every day. These men loved me, even the mess that I was. Their love penetrated over time a heart that was dead. Then God warmed my heart to the gospel and a new life was set into motion.
We live in a messy world, that much I can gain from reading the paper or watching the news. This messy world was the world God stepped into. Christ's descent into the mess is the second greatest act of love next his death on the Cross. If I believe this, why am I so quick to judge anyone and everyone I encounter in public? Why do I lose patience with "extra grace required" people? I think it's because I have been conditioned to look for the faults and identify the mess. That remaining influence of my sin nature causes great trouble and distance between me and people.
I want to be someone who loves the mess we live in. I want to be a pastor who pushes people more to Christ, the great cleaner of our soul, than opposing behaviors and mentalities that mess things up. Hear clearly, as Christians we are NOT to tolerate sin, accept it, make light of it. We repent of it. Along with restoring broken fellowship, thatis God's goal for us in dealing with sin. I think how we do what we do matters. How we say what we say matters. Let's be people who love the mess and point people to Christ because "the until matters."