I heard an interesting quote recently…
The church, he said, is like manure. Pile it together and it stinks up the neighborhood; spread it out and it enriches the world. ~Luis Palau~
I’ve struggled lately with God’s true call on my life. I’ve prayed for discernment and vision. I’ve prayed that I would be willing to follow his lead. I’ve prayed and prayed and prayed because that’s all I know to do at this point. And much of what has convicted me lately is that our churches are not reaching out. They’re piling up on themselves and starting to stink!
The other thing that I’ve been struck by is the call to live in community, like Jesus and his disciples. Now, here’s where the two of those ideas start to come together (among other reasons):
Before daybreak the next morning, Jesus got up and went out to an isolated place to pray. Later Simon and the others went out to find him. When they found him, they said, “Everyone is looking for you.” But Jesus replied, “We must go on to other towns as well, and I will preach to them, too. That is why I came.” So he traveled throughout the region of Galilee, preaching in the synagogues and casting out demons. ~Mark 1:35-39~
The kingdom over which Christ reigns is not limited or contained to one place. He says specifically that they must move on, even though there are still people waiting to see him, maybe even people who haven’t been healed yet or have yet to hear the Gospel. But even Christ knew that if the Gospel is to spread, there are two things that must happen:
- We have to rely on others. Christ lived with his disciples and taught them the principles of his kingdom. He called them, and us, to live as a community in society that does not alienate itself, but demonstrates a radical shift in philosophy, to the extent that others in society gravitate towards it. And, when it came time for him to remove himself from the equation, he gave us the Holy Spirit to continue to guide us and give us the authority to take his word “into all the world.”
- We have to keep moving. And by moving, I mostly mean changing. Society moves, society changes, society is dynamic, not static. Why, then, do so many churches believe that we should be so strongly tied to tradition that is totally compartmentalized from society?
Movement can be literal as well, as many of you know. However, it doesn’t matter because the church’s response is what is paramount. This call for movement is not necessarily placed on a whole body of believers. Sometimes, it’s only one, or perhaps a few. But, in my opinion, the church should be ready to accept, equip, orient, and release those persons into that movement. Christ didn’t stay in one place, nor did he train his disciples to entrench themselves in one town or country. He knew that they would have to continually move and grow in order for the world to be changed.
So I continue to pray about how I can keep moving, and in many instances, it means untying myself from the church and embracing the community. I hope, too, that many of you will move with me. And I pray that we enrich the world, not become stagnant.