Sunday, October 29, 2006

If Jesus went to church today...

Today I wondered what Jesus might think if he visited a typical church these days. He might go to a typical evangelical church like I did today and see people passionately singing "You alone are worthy of praise". The next song might be one called "Father, Spirit, Son", and be all about how wonderful Jesus is. The next song might be about giving glory and praise to God, and how wonderful God is. They might sing a song asking God to bless them with his care or provision, or to help them out with their problems.

I'm sure he'd be impressed with the lights, the awesome sound and the skillful musicianship. I'm sure he'd be flattered that they praise him so very much in their songs. And no doubt he would lift his hands, close his eyes, and feel very spiritual while people around him whisper "Jesussss"...

But he would feel like a stranger.

I think Jesus would probably feel more comfortable visiting people in hospitals or city missions. Maybe he'd go and talk with the prostitutes and the drug addicts late at night. Perhaps he'd even set up an Alcoholic's Anonymous group or a safe house for victims of abuse. Or go and look after people who aren't able to look after themselves. Or perhaps he'd find a disadvantaged few school kids who are really struggling to help out. He'd hang out with the people who wouldn't like church, wouldn't feel welcome there, and probably wouldn't BE very welcomed there.

And you know what, I think he'd find that doing those sort of things was far closer to what he had in mind for preaching the Kingdom of God than sitting in a pew listening to religious singing about how wonderful he is and being told about the three keys to experiencing more of God. If he went to church, he'd see the wonderful lights, see the raised hands, and hear the singing and the whisperings of "Jesusssss..." - and perhaps at the same time he'd think of the guy sitting in the back corner that looks like he hasn't had much of a family or friendship. Maybe he'd think of the woman he saw in the supermarket who looked utterly downcast. He might think of the guy who sleeps under the tree in Hagley park most nights...

Maybe he'd even get a chance to preach. What, I wonder, would he say?


peasant said...

he would say stuff from isaiah 61, and
encourage the flock with a few things like this
a) i don't want you to be good! just learn to listen to me and try to be a kind person (micah 6:8)
b) only tithe what you feel like giving, be responsible with your money
c) god is not a slot machine or a mystical force. he is your Papa who loves you dearly. YOU are a pearl of great price to him.
d) stop trying to impress me. just be honest and come as you are. only my grace can change you & redeem you
e) there is an unseen war for your soul. things don't always go perfectly on this planet. that's why i have given you oceans of grace ... and will pour out even more if you want it

Ray said...

cool post. I agree :)

Christina said...

*nods, agrees and mmmhmms biggishly*

Yeah. Funnily enough, the last couple of weeks going through Mark, I'd conjured up this image of Jesus as a bit of an oddball, this political agitator from the back-blocks and his raggedy (but very purposeful) band of disciples, who ventured out into the civilised bits of Palestine for "skirmishes" every now and again (i.e healings and clashes with the Pharisees); who managed to re-define and upset some of the most crucial, back-bone aspects of the culture of his day by telling people to love and cherish and respect each other, no matter their station in life.

So I thought the same thing in that service. I wondered how this rebel would've reacted to this very slick, very corporate, performance. I longed for/missed the simplicity and belongingness of my current church; I was a little sad that I felt so obviously disjointed and uncomfortable in a place that had been by 'home' for so long.

And when they kept talking about not standing on the brand new chairs, I really, really wanted to! :D

Fraser Dron said...

Whoah, the blog liveth!

Congratulations on fixing your Atom feed Reubs.

If Jesus were to preach on "The Three Keys to Experiencing More of God", I suspect they'd be something like:

1. "Go home."
2. "Sell all your possessions and give the money to the City Mission or similar."
3. "Then you'll be ready to start getting to know God like I do".