If you’ve read Forgiven and liked the idea behind Philip Yancey’s book Vanishing Grace, here’s something for you to check out. It’s a video of the author talking about his book. The video is actually addressed to pastors, but I think it’s good for everyone to listen to – especially for anyone who has issues with the way Christianity is presented in some churches. As the Forgiven post talks about, Jesus was someone that spent time and ate with all sorts of “sinners”. In the Gospels we see Him with the likes of tax collectors, roman soldiers, and prostitutes. Scandalous in His time – and in too many churches today, it’s the same. These are the people He was with – because these were the very people He came to this earth to be with! So why aren’t churches today being like Him? That’s the question asked in Vanishing Grace. It’s a great book. Hopefully it’s one that many pastors will read and take to heart. Hopefully it’s also one that many Christians who are not pastors will also read and take to heart.
BTW – I am not a pastor. I do teach classes in the church I attend. One of them will be on the Forgiven post. Doing this takes people (like me) out of our comfort zones. As the video shows though – Jesus sent his people out into the world – He didn’t tell them to hide from it. He also didn’t tell them to beat His teaching into people – but to lovingly present it to them. Like the rich man parable discussed in Forgiven – it’s not something that comes naturally to us. But for those of us who claim to be followers of Jesus – hiding isn’t really an option, as much as we might like to do that. Going out is something He wants us to do. But like the rich man who couldn’t do what Jesus wanted of Him on his own, but could have with God’s help – we can’t really go out on our own to present the Good News of Jesus without His help either. And – going out with the right message is also hard. The Apostle Paul warns us to be sure the everyone is given the message of God’s grace – See to it that no one misses the grace of God… The key, of course, is that it’s God’s message of His grace – not our message or our grace. It’s hard to give his message, when our own view of grace is so much smaller and His grace is so much bigger and better than ours. And yet, without even being able to comprehend it, that’s what we’re supposed to teach. And His message is what He wants everyone to hear.
So, let me close this with two thoughts / prayers –
One – that we Christians who are trying to present Jesus’ message – that we truly seek the help that He offers to us in order to present it accurately and lovingly.
Two – that everyone who is listening to this message be open to understand what God intended for us to say – and not turn away from God because one (or more) of us didn’t give the message correctly. Remember – the message is His message – not ours. Seek Jesus – not one of us – and not a particular church building.
I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.
Someone’s at your door.