Thursday, February 16, 2006

The Cross and the City

I am in the midst of putting some stuff together as we approach Lent and Easter. I came across this interesting article from One of the things that has marked my tribe - the evangeical missionary church - the last many, many years, has been a retreat from the city. We've tended to be a smaller town church. 100+ years ago, it was a different story. We were planting churches in cities. Some of that flavour is coming back into the emcc.

When the Apostle Paul came to the city of Corinth, he "resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified." I don't know if this was his approach in every city, but It's definitely something we need to explore. What might this mean? Nothing except the crucified Christ? Certainly he must have known many things in Corinth, but he resolved to know them only through the lens of the crucified Lord.

The image above, is a watercolor titled "I AM," done by Sarah Brown, a high school senior. Sarah wrote these notes to describe her piece:
Lately I’ve had a lot jumbled up in my head about Christianity. I’ve been wondering why our lives, as Christians, contradict the way Jesus lived his life. Why don’t we hang out with the prostitutes and tax collectors? Why is it ok for a lawyer in the congregation to get divorced, but not the pastor? Why is it unacceptable for a couple to have premarital sex, but acceptable for people to gossip about them?

My youth pastor made a comment one time that has stuck with me. “Jesus died for everyone. Even child molesters.” Through all the years of felt board stories, hymns, and sermons that had never registered the way it did at that moment. I guess when I thought “Jesus died for everyone” I was unconsciously picturing the balding heads in the pews around me. Certainly not the sick twisted people who would exploit an innocent child. Jesus’ sacrifice took on new meaning for me. He died for Hitler? Marilyn Manson? Wow. Then once that had sunk in, it hit me like a load of bricks. Not only did Jesus pay the price for what these people had done, in the eyes of God he became these people. The great I AM became the filth of the earth. Jesus the paradox.

If Jesus had enough love to give his life for those people why is it so hard for us to love them? And in the end, sin is sin. A Sunday school teacher is equal to a mass murderer. I’m the same as that child molester because God has offered us the same love. That was hard for me to accept. Then I decided that the answer to all these questions is love. We are called to love like He does. Matthew 25:40 can be interpreted, “And the King will tell them, I assure you, when you [loved] one of the least of these my brothers and sisters you were [loving] me.” The old song says, “And they’ll know we are Christians by our love.”

We’ve got a lot of loving to catch up on, so let’s get started.

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