In the world

th-3It’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?

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11 Responses to In the world

  1. bobbobs60 says:

    In Judaism, there are two words that roughly express the idea of faith: emunah and bitachon. There is a profound difference between the two: emunah is believing in God and that He runs the world; bitachon is acting in accordance with that belief. For example, a butcher who believes that his earnings all come from God has emunah. However, if he panics when a competitor opens up down the street, then he is lacking bitachon. Bitachon means living out the belief that God will come through for us every time.
    This week, let’s challenge ourselves to live our faith… – not just in abstract ideas, but in concrete actions, feelings, and emotions. Let’s take our faith to a higher level and know unshakably that God is in control and that we have nothing to fear.

    (Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, International Fellowship of Christians and Jews)
    http://www.holylandmoments.org/devotionals/living-our-faith

    • greg Krejci says:

      I say thank you. I have always had such a struggle with these two concepts in my life. This is where the rubber hits the road.

  2. greg Krejci says:

    Thank you John for the last couple of Catches. You are really stretching me in how I look at things. I want to cry, I want to tear down my fortresses. I get scared sometimes at the possibilities of what that looks like in my life. I want to take my agendas and my plans and make them His. Life has not been easy for me ever and I get afraid of messing with what comfort I do have. Thank you for the encouragement that these catch’s give me.

  3. Mark Seguin says:

    Pastor John, can u plz, pretty plz answer this question, which I asked on Feb 12th, yet still no reply: Pastor John I sent you my gift/offering back of Feb. 8th and it, or PayPal tells me is still is un-claimed, yet I jus had to check my on-line checking account and that tells me it’s cleared… So I simply don’t know if you have received it, or not..? Also both of the emails addresses i had for you came back the other day as un-deliveriable…

  4. TimC says:

    One Big Problem (there are more) with being in the world is dealing with the daily beatings. There are some ways that world drives me crazy, and sometimes I want to run away and hide.
    In one way that is good, in another way it is not so good. Jesus frequently got away to pray, so we can follow His example. But I admit that I would like to withdraw stay away. The hard part is that Jesus would get up and go back at it. I don’t know how He did that.
    I would love to quit beating my head against a brick wall, but apparently, that is not an option. There is no rest for the weary, the yoke is hard and the burden is heavy.
    I don’t have an answer for that.

  5. Peter Leenheer says:

    Yesterday I did a lot of crying, but I forgot to do what David did in all the psalms he wrote. At the end he always mentions how he rejoiced in the Lord.

    So here it is! Despite all the pain and hurt in the world and it often has me crying it gives me hope to know that God can take something bad and turn it into good. At the end of time he will come again and all will be fantastic! So my feelings are a strange but wonderful mixture of grief and sorrow. Like at a funeral of a God fearing friend.

  6. Peter Leenheer says:

    That should be grief and joy. OOPS!

  7. I’ve been reading about the real lives of some of my 70’s christian music artists heros. Girlfriends, illegitimate children, divorce and remarriage. This didn’t happen after they were done with ministry but during. They were doing great things for God in the middle of the “Jesus Freak days” while failing their walk with Him.
    I find myself with two thoughts about it.
    1. Christianity is based on emotional response and is all in our heads. We like to be led and follow what ever makes us feel good. or
    2. The Jesus movement was real and God anoints womanizers, liers and cheaters to profond the religious.
    Johnny Cash never let us forget that he was a sinner. He didn’t hide it and some of related to him because of his honesty.
    Others had dirty secrets and we loved them because we thought they were anointed and inspired us to live pure lives. Anointed or not, God used them.

    Based on todays catch I’m thinking there are christians that admit their worldliness and christians that pretend they are not a part of it. The truth is we are all worldly.
    I don’t think these faulted guys didn’t love Jesus.

    As we live in the world and love others it will be up to God who and how he uses us. As we walk together I hope that walk will lead us to fewer moral and or spiritual failures.

    “Messy, bringing Christ to the mess.” I don’t think we share Christ with others because he made us better than others, we share Christ because we are just as screwed up as everybody else and we found a savior that in spite of our messiness gave us hope.

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