It’s easier to judge than to empathize. It’s easier to categorize than to identify. It’s easier to find what’s wrong with the world than it is to find and support what is right. It’s easier to write the world off as being truly messed up than it is to join the mess.
Jesus told us that He did not come into the world to condemn the world but to save it. I guess you could say Jesus was worldly. God so loved the world that He gave it Jesus, and even though the world rejected Him, He did not reject the world. He embraced it. He touched unclean lepers and women with “issues of blood” (something forbidden in the laws of Moses) and let prostitutes touch Him. He ate with sinners. He walked among the people freely without being a respecter of persons. He welcomed all who came to Him with a sincere heart – even Pharisees (Nicodemus and Simon). Christians need to start thinking and acting more like Jesus.
If you find yourself judging the world it’s a sign that you have removed yourself too far from it. You can’t judge what you embrace; you can only judge what you have distanced yourself from. Otherwise you are casting judgment upon yourself, and who’s going to want to do that?
We must say no to the temptation to judge, categorize and disengage from the world. The Christian subculture in America is largely the result of this desire to disengage. We behave as if we don’t like the world, and we’d like to create our own world where things are more the way we want them to be. We want to be safe. Sure, we’ll take the gospel to the world as long as we can return to our protected enclaves where the world is more distant. If we could create a heaven on earth, we would, and let the world go to hell. But thank goodness we can’t, because the world needs what we know. People need the Lord, and we act like we want to keep Him to ourselves? Not good.
We are representatives of the gospel of welcome. Though not of the world, Jesus was in it, and He welcomed any and all. Jesus didn’t have a safe place to go at the end of the day as if He was done being in the world for a while. Not once is there any evidence that Jesus wanted to remove people from the world. Death will do that soon enough. In the meantime, we are here to join, embrace, connect, engage – all the things Jesus did.
Daniel, one of our members, observed after yesterday’s Catch, “It is so much more attractive to feel the strength of anger and judgement and arrogance towards the world and others around us. How vulnerable and helpless it feels to be sad. Perhaps that is where God wants us. Desperate for Him.”
Yes: desperate for Him in the world. Desperate, bringing Christ to the desperate. Sinners, bringing Christ to the sinners. Hungry, bringing Christ to the hungry. Messy, bringing Christ to the mess. It’s what He came here for us here to do.
Are we in the world or just somewhere in the vicinity?