Escaping the Christian Ghetto of the “church”

Individuals are saved into a community. St. Paul refers to this community as a temple of the Lord. This temple is unfinished. It’s a work in progress.

It’s an ever-expanding renovation project, acquiring new people, new tribes, new lands and new areas of human culture – sanded, refitted, resurfaced, polished and repurposed – without end – from the rivers to the end of the earth.

It’s messy but this building is being shaped into something beautiful that houses the Triune God.

But like all renovation projects, in which you are still trying to live in it – it strains patience, strains belief, strains our ability to envision the final product – it requires a lot of faith and hope.

We all know that.

People sin. Circumstances of life are difficult. People move away. People in church are not perfect. Resources are strained.

The people being repurposed into this building, the church, are delicate and difficult, they require specialized tools. And those tools are you and me.

I don’t know if you know this – but you – with all your attributes, life experiences, frailties and character traits – complete me. Without you I am a foot without a leg, an ear without a head.

You were born to have a significant role in my life. To play the part of sandpaper and duct tape. Pry bar and finishing hammer. Veneer and scrub brush. Congratulations. But I also complete you. This community is not the elders. This community is not a select clique.

You need everyone in this community. Not just the folks whose company you enjoy most – who are the most compatible, likeable, lovable and the least work.

I instill a lot of patience in people, by nature, because it takes a lot of patience to be close to me. Ask my wife. There is a fruit of the spirit that you are most adequately equipped to encourage in me. Trust me. Continue reading “Escaping the Christian Ghetto of the “church””

Escaping the Christian ghetto of “family”

Jeremiah 29:4-6 “Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease.”

Can’t we sympathize with those faithful servants of God dwelling in Babylon? Exiled amid a pagan and god-hating culture? We know something about living among pagans. Using the right pronoun is a high crime in our society. God is imminently concerned for our welfare, so he calls us to not be discouraged but to build, to seek fruitfulness; in the field and in the home.

And this is warfare, for the Babylon in which we live hates fruitfulness. Abortion and the politics of sodomy are opposed to the cultural mandate and the ethics of our King. And the culture now is one of mammon and not husbandry – not sowing and reaping plenty as good stewards taking dominion of the soil, but our modern culture seeks the god of money and lays everything on its altar as sacrifice in pursuit of self-gratification with this idol.

Ladies, it’s hard to imagine how counter-cultural and warlike remaining in the home is. How violent a demonstration against the world a full womb is, the vehement politics of submitting to one man and raising 3, 4, 5+ children, even dare I say, teaching them yourselves, what a “revolution?” Men do you know how subversive it is to marry in the sight of God with vows of fidelity? To commit, for life, to a single woman and provide for her? To rear children? To remain in those children’s’ lives?

To put your hand to the plow of your job, not to seek riches for the god of Mammon and self-gratification but for the welfare of a wife who serves and helps you and children who depend endlessly on you -this is subversive. This is Reformation. Continue reading “Escaping the Christian ghetto of “family””

Escaping the Christian Ghetto of “self”

Get out of the Ghetto

Are there times when you feel isolated and alone? Even amid family, friends or y our church community? When you hear your pastors preach and teach about outreach and hospitality and servanthood – do you feel a lack of resources prevent you from taking our calls and admonitions seriously? Do you feel ill-equipped to obey in all that God has called you to do through your ministers? Do you keep people at a distance because you have experienced pain or difficulty in relationships?

Have people let you down? Abandoned you? Sinned against you? Judged you? Or perhaps you are so judgmental, that people aren’t worthy of meaningful friendship because they are prudish, arrogant, self-important and self-righteous? Pretty much, do you keep people at arm’s length where it’s safest?

Isolation. A lack of resources. Ill-treatment. These are all characteristics of a community, which since the sixteenth century, has been referred to as a ghetto. Modern use of the word tends to mean an ethnic, racial, low-income and inner-city. We don’t refer to trailer parks as ghetto – the word now as certain connotations. But the more accurate definition of the word is an isolated community turned inward from a city that is hostile toward it.

We did not set out to build ghettos. Suburban churches in our denomination are small, generally 30-100 people. We don’t have access to the wheels of cultural or political power. We are spread over a vast geographic area, in Seattle, we are in one of the most expensive regions to live in. We like big families. Continue reading “Escaping the Christian Ghetto of “self””