What's your calling?
We are doing the 'Redefined' series at church, which is a 16 week series focused on searching out the truth from the sermon on the mount. We are currently in week 5 and I've loved every sermon so far.
I've realised the 'missional code' that the EN Melbourne church is searching for is wrapped up in the sermon of the mount.
Unfortunately the majority of Australians don't see the church (in general) as they see Jesus and this is the churches own doing. Over the generations we became a church that is hypocritical, ingenuous, abusive (toward church family, people outside of the church and especially children), we stopped loving our enemies (and more then that we fought with and tore at each other) and became pharisaical.
Here is the trap of the Australian church; we cared more about how we looked, with being right, with taking the moral high ground then dealing with the reality and struggle of sin through our relationship with Jesus. We forsook Jesus and His righteousness for our own. Covering up sexual abuse instead of exposing it (1 Corinthians 5:12-13), putting masks on ourselves instead trusting and surrendering to Jesus (Galatians 2-3, Romans), hence becoming like the Pharisee's- Jesus said in Matthew 23:13 ESV "But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people's faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in.”
I understand this is not the whole church body, but in saying that, no church is perfect. It's full of broken people after all. But this has been our greatest short coming; trusting in ourselves to do the work instead of trusting Jesus to do the work in us. And letting the world see in all of our brokenness a genuine love for each other; a love that doesn't rip and tare, a love that forgives offense, a love that lays down ones own life for those it says it loves, a love that displays an individual that would do all he can to restore a relationship with his brother who is offended with him, a love that transcends culture, age groups, family dynamics and different backgrounds.
After all, this is the love that Jesus displayed right? He died for His enemies. The cross says "even though you've wronged Me and I am innocent, I'll die for you. I'll take your place because I want relationship with you so much." And it's not a shallow relationship; it's a marital, covenantal one.
I am convinced there is hope though and the reason the world seems to be getting worse is because the church isn't doing its job. I would challenge anyone who says that the devil is winning (he's been defeated and has no authority) and thinking that we are now just waiting for Jesus to return to fix everything. He's charged us with that duty (“And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.”
Matthew 28:18-20 NKJV)
Jesus said about the church "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." (John 13:34-35 ESV)
Quite often we Christians put quite a lot of emphasis on our 'calling'. For the sake of length of this blog, let me make this short; If we want to change the tide of Christianity in Australia, let's respond to this call (commandment) that Jesus gave; to love one another like He loved us. It will cost us; a lot, if not everything, to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters; to be genuine, to expose what needs to be exposed, to be authentic in our love, to crucify our selves with Christ, to live righteously, in peace and in joy, but at least when Australians look at the church they'll see Jesus and the open door to all those who want what they see. Jesus. What they'll see is Jesus.
"Indeed, I have been crucified with Christ. My ego is no longer central. It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me. The life you see me living is not “mine,” but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I am not going to go back on that. Is it not clear to you that to go back to that old rule-keeping, peer-pleasing religion would be an abandonment of everything personal and free in my relationship with God? I refuse to do that, to repudiate God’s grace. If a living relationship with God could come by rule-keeping, then Christ died unnecessarily.”
Galatians 2:19-21 MSG