Friday, February 1, 2013

a church for outcasts

I write this with a heavy awareness of what is happening in the world.  You do not have to listen very closely to hear the rhetoric of hate, anger and division that plagues our world, our nation, and our churches.

Fiercely we see people debate homosexual marriage, and immigration.  We see passion burning so hotly that it consumes us and those around us.  In the midst of all the politics, and all the arguments, and all the assumptions we have forgotten to listen to our Heavenly Father.

Perhaps we have been so focused on morality, or holiness, or tradition that we have forgotten the gospel...the good news.  Too often what we argue does not sound like good news.  I think we are so eager to make political stands, we forget to see that we are not standing on the rock.

These two issues homosexual marriage and immigration are very divisive yet very important for the church today.  How we speak about these and how we deal with them is extremely important to Christ.  But before we even begin to think and speak about such things we must remember the message of the gospel, the good news.

We need to remember Jesus began his preaching ministry in Matthew with the Sermon on the Mount.  Jesus says:

Blessed are the poor in spirit for there's is the kingdom of heaven

Blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted

Blessed are the meek for they will inherit the earth (Matthew 5:3-5)

Jesus blesses those whom we would not otherwise see as blessed.  If Jesus preached that sermon today, who would he mention as those who are blessed?  Certainly we could mention the poor, the sad, and the weak.  But who fit in this category?  Jesus' list in Matthew 5 is not exhaustive; there are many more we could add such as:

Blessed are the immigrants for they will be given a home

Blessed are the homosexual for the Father will pour his love on them

Blessed are the tattooed for God will put his mark on them

Blessed are the drunk, high, and strung out, for God will inject them with the Spirit

Blessed are the mentally ill, for God will be mindful of them

Blessed are the single parents, for God will be their partner

Blessed are the children with no mothers or fathers, for God is their heavenly Father.

We could add so many to this list.  These are people who are hurt, ostracized, and often seen outside of God's favor.  Oftentimes we keep them at arm's length.

Remember the ministry of Jesus.  Remember who he healed, whom he touched, whom he ate with, spoke with, did ministry with.  Remember whom Jesus welcomed and who he blessed.  Instead of worrying too much about political solutions we should focus on Christ solutions.  Our arms are not made to push people away, but to bring people in. 

Look around today, who can we bless, who is Christ blessing today?

1 comment:

  1. Your modern take on the Beatitudes reminds me of this Jars of Clay song (particularly 2:40 on):

    Oh My God--Jars of Clay
    Words and music by Dan Haseltine, Charlie Lowell, Stephen Mason, Matt Odmark

    Oh my God, look around this place
    Your fingers reach around the bone
    You set the break and set the tone
    Flights of grace, and future falls
    In present pain
    All fools say, "Oh my God"

    Oh my God, Why are we so afraid?
    We make it worse when we don't bleed
    There is no cure for our disease
    Turn a phrase, and rise again
    Or fake your death and only tell your closest friend
    Oh my God.

    Oh my God, can I complain?
    You take away my firm belief and graft my soul upon your grief
    Weddings, boats and alibis
    All drift away, and a mother cries

    Liars and fools; sons and failures
    Thieves will always say
    Lost and found; ailing wanderers
    Healers always say
    Whores and angels; men with problems
    Leavers always say
    Broken hearted; separated
    Orphans always say
    War creators; racial haters
    Preachers always say
    Distant fathers; fallen warriors
    Givers always say
    Pilgrim saints; lonely widows
    Users always say
    Fearful mothers; watchful doubters
    Saviors always say

    Sometimes I cannot forgive
    And these days, mercy cuts so deep
    If the world was how it should be,
    Maybe I could get some sleep
    While I lay, I dream we're better,
    Scales were gone and faces light
    When we wake, we hate our brother
    We still move to hurt each other
    Sometimes I can close my eyes,
    And all the fear that keeps me silent
    Falls below my heavy breathing,
    What makes me so badly bent?
    We all have a chance to murder
    We all feel the need for wonder
    We still want to be reminded
    That the pain is worth the plunder

    Sometimes when I lose my grip,
    I wonder what to make of heaven
    All the times I thought to reach up
    All the times I had to give in
    Babies underneath their beds
    Hospitals that cannot treat
    All the wounds that money causes
    All the comforts of cathedrals

    All the cries of thirsty children - this is our inheritance
    All the rage of watching mothers - this is our greatest offense

    Oh my God
    Oh my God