Thursday, September 21, 2006

It's No Fad

*My thanks to Pastor Neil for making me think about this some more!

What are some of the fads you remember growing up? Fashion is always changing, and it has had its memorable moments. Being born in 1975, I don't recall really any of the '70s. But, I do remember the '80s. Just a movie on TV from the era reminds me of the now embarrassing things we thought were cool.

Who remembers parachute pants? These were nylon pants loaded with pockets and zippers. What about stonewashed jeans complete with manufacturer holes? And of course, we couldn't just throw the jeans on, we had to carefully fold the pant leg over at the ankle and roll them up 2 or 3 times. Then I remember the Hypercolor T-shirts that actually changed color when exposed to the heat or water. Talk about cheesy! We had the tall spiked hair and jean jackets, and we thought we looked so cool!

Well, we in the Christian church have had our share of changes, too. And I don't mean fashion. I remember the Brownsville Revival. God truly moved and saved many at that very long running revival. Yet, preachers would actually study what they did in that revival and try to duplicate it at their churches, hoping that God would bring a massive revival to their towns, too. But Brownsville wasn't about the setup on stage, it was about a praying people that sought God to touch the city of Pensacola, and God shook a nation.

I also remember the Purpose Driven phenomenon, about discovering your purpose on this planet. Or the Prayer of Jabez. How many folks went out and bought these books hoping to bring lasting change to their lives, me included? And we got some good stuff from them. They were certainly blessings, but as fast as they hit the Evangelical scene, they faded into obscurity. You just don't hear much about these teachings nowadays.

Well, now we have talk going on about the Emergent Church, or Emerging Church. While I don't fully understand what this is, the aim is to engage a post-modern, post-Christian society and meet them where they are at. And, some are yelling that this is just another Christian fad. I don't think that this is the case. But I am going to dig a bit deeper than simply talking about the Emergent Church. I want to talk about what drives them. The driving force is the realization that the church is to be missional. That is another buzz word being tossed around lately. I'm sure some are calling it faddish. But I'm not. I call it getting back to the roots of what being a Christ-follower is. Christ called us to reach out to the world with the Gospel. Just listen to Matthew 28:18-20:

"Jesus, undeterred, went right ahead and gave his charge: 'God authorized and commanded me me to commision you: Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I'll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up the end of the age.'" The Message

I think that we get too inward-focused as Christians. We live for Sunday. We come in the back door of the church house, sing some songs, praise the Lord, listen to a sermon, and leave waiting for next week. We push through the week, concerned with our own issues and problems. How often do we think of our coworkers? Our extended families? Our neighbors? These people need to hear the life-changing message of Jesus Christ, but we pass them by. The church, from the text I quoted, is to be outward-focused. In fact, the Apostle Paul said we are to follow the example of Jesus, who left the glory of heaven to become a man and die a torturous death for us on a cross. He thought more of me and you than he did of his own comforts. How much more should we be more concerned with our neighbor than ourselves? (See Philippians 2) Being missional means being outward-focused, a missionary in our own sphere of influence.

So, I am a man on a mission. I have loved ones, friends and coworkers that do not know Jesus Christ. I can't sit any longer in a nice little Christian sub-culture, insulated from the world Jesus died for. I have realized my place as a missionary. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, I am going to show people who Jesus Christ is, through my words and through my life. It is time to emerge out of the four walls of the church to realize that we have been equipped to reach the lost.

So, friends, make no mistake. This is no fad. This is learning to become all things to all people so that we may see them saved (see 1 Cor. 9). This is learning to reach people in relevant ways that show them the love of Christ. I am missional. Are you?

God bless!


Andrea said...

Your words "This is learning to become all things to all people so that we may see them saved (see 1 Cor. 9)," give me pause. The thought exhausts me!

What if Jesus actually hoped we'd learn to let all people become all things to us, especially that then we'd see - indeed, treat them as already saved?

Wasn't his lesson for us in actively loving all people regardles of where they are along their earthly paths? Weren't the acts of Jesus just so?

Isn't the reality of "salvation" an intimate exchange between the person and the Divine, and thereby subject to all the golden rules of privacy, respect, patience and unconditional love?

(see 1 Corinthians 13)

- Andrea

michigan preacher said...

Andrea, thanks for sharing. Actually, those aren't my words, they are God's through the Apostle Paul, who also wrote the passage you referenced.

Really, as exhaustive as that statement may seem, it needn't be. It simply means meeting people where they are at, to share the Gospel with them in a way they can relate to. It comes down to doing what Jesus did. He came to seek and save those who were lost. So that is our mission.

I'm not sure I get your last statement. The reality of salvation is that we are saved from our sins. Part of that is our adoption into God's family. That alone should should make treat those yet unsaved with respect, to be patient with them, and to love them. However, that does not mean being accepting of lifestyles and sin that the Bible clearly is against. If we truly love people, we will tell them the truth of God's word. Anything less would unloving.


phil said...

excellent post... i think you hit it right on....and andrea, you get it.
phil underwood

Neil said...


I am somehow consumed with this concept and phrase and that of learning to appreciate the process. Process is not always easy but always necessary...we cry for change and yet desire for things to remain the same. Can it be that we have failed to recognize the difference between preference and the will of God, and the fulfillment of process?

Missional Jerry said...

Great conversations going on here.

Some of this is hard to wrap your head around, but I think thats part of the mystery of being the church.

ruthrap said...

mp, you're right, what we "prefer" isn't always what God prefers for us. and sometimes we have a tendency to twist His will to comform to our "will" and that is so wrong..we really need to examine our motives as to our interpretation of His will in relationship to ours! does that make sense? i think what i'm trying to say is we need more knowledge of what He wants for us as opposed to what we think we need for ourselves!

JimmyBob said...

Hey Jeff, I just wanted to add a memory of another fashion fad of the eighties.

I used to wear the pants with the suspenders hanging down. My dad would make fun of me and ask if they were holding my butt up.

Anyhow, I totally agree about getting back to the mission that Jesus gave us. He's coming back again soon (as He promised - we can read it in the Scripture) and our job is to go out and invite as many as we can to accept the King's invitation to join Him. That's the way I see it.