Thursday, October 06, 2005

The Ins and Outs

I was preparing for a class yesterday that I and our associate pastor, Mitch, are teaching on Wednesday nights. Yes, I know that it should have been typed sooner but I had procrastinated. Anyway, the class is based around Brian McLaren’s book, The Story We Find Ourselves In. I was typing up a section on the sixth C which is Church, or Community, and I was looking for a passage in the Bible where Jesus is talking about the Kingdom being at hand. It just so happens that the best concordance Bible I have is my old, but sturdy, Kings James Bible that I was given as a tween. While I was thumbing through scripture I cam across Matthew 25 verses 34 and 41. My eye was immediately drawn to these two verses because I had underlined them at some point in my life. Huh, I said to myself why these verses and not the others. This made me start reading…Here is what verse 34 says:

34. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come ye blessed of my Father inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:

I thought, ‘that sounds great, what a blessing.’ So I read the next verse:

41. Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:

‘AHHHH!!! What a scary thought. Banished into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.’ I imagine that was my reaction when I was told to underline those two verses as a kid. Clearly these verses are describing how Christ’s sheep will be brought home and those who have rejected Christ will be rejected in the end as well. But wait a minute. Have you read the verses in between?

35. For was an hungered and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger and you took me in…40b. Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

42. For I was an hungered, and ye gave me not meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink…45b. Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.

Why was it that my pastor didn’t have me underline the other verses?! It is true that there will be judgment one day. It is true that the righteous will be separated from the unrighteous, but Jesus tells us in plain English how to become the righteous ones. It’s not about creating an, “I’m in, your out” mentality. That’s missing the point. If we continue to teach and preach this ‘version’ of the gospel, then we are doing Christ and our kids and our entire congregations an injustice. Christ message was one of revolution. A revolution of love meant to be lived out on this earth. It is the most subversive message that has ever been given. When will we wake up and realize that the message of Christ was not about selfishly getting our own souls to heaven, although I believe that we will be with Christ when it is all said and done, but rather it was about feeding the hungry, and clothing the poor. It was about practicing here in this life how we will live in the next.

I’m not completely angry at those I trusted to give me the truth as a kid. (Although that statement might tell otherwise.) I am becoming more aware that as a youth pastor it is not my role to simply get my kids to say a prayer. It is not my role to “scare the hell” out of them. My role is to love and nurture. To show kindness to the oppressed. To lead by example and to invite them on a journey that will last them a lifetime.

This decision to be a disciple of Christ should not be taken lightly. It should not be based on the question, ‘If you were to die tonight.’ Christ tells that just as a builder weighs the cost of the construction of the building to see if he has enough to build, so are we to weigh the cost of giving up our lives to follow Christ.

The cliché is true. It’s easy to call Jesus our Savior, but it is much harder to call him our Lord.


very well said my friend.
Wow! I'm impressed. Thanks for the lesson. It reminds me of a song by Chris Tomlin
I want to live like there's no tomorrow
I want to dance like no one's around
I want to sing like nobody's listening
Before I lay my body down
I want to give like I have plenty
I want to love like I'm not afraid
I want to be the man I was meant to be
I want to be the way I was made

Praying for you everyday, May God pour His blessing upon the ministry He has called you to.
Thanks for the reminder, Adam. No matter how old we get, it's good to get to the basics of what we are all about as Christians... This has been (another) rough week for me with overtime at work, and it's a good thing to stop... and ask for the peace and rest our Lord provides. Peace to you, my friend, and to those who might read this...
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