This past weekend was simply extraordinary. The Gathering of Men I taught over the weekend was amazing (see my last blog). But what capped it off was what happened at church on Sunday. I have waited 25 years to hear a sermon like I did. 25 long, long years.
The new pastor, Scott Sauls, spoke about how God loves inappropriate people. He did a masterful job of examining how Jesus inteacted with a prostitute and how God loves the unlovely. He then made a rather obvious point. If a church is going to be Christlike, it’s got to move in the same way.
Then he preceded to dismantle so much of of what we experience as church: the religiousity, the stuffiness, the masks, the ridiculous legalism, the suffocating social cues. I was so stunned at what I was hearing that I got chills. Finally, somebody was saying that the emperor has no clothes on. Finally somebody was pointing out the obvious. What we define socially as the church often has little to do with Jesus. And it blocks so many from considering Jesus.
This is the church that needs to die. For unless it is dismantled by the courage of pastors, it will die anyway. The cultural pluralism, the religious drift, the alternative lifestyles all sound multiple death knells for the church as we know it. It won’t survive into the next generation except as a cultural relic of a forgotten era. But here is the surprise. The death of our present experience of church can be the rebirth of a church that reflects Jesus much clearer.
Jesus said that when he is lifted up that he will draw all men to himself. When we really are Christlike, that’s also what will happen. The prostitutes and misfits and alcoholics and workoholics and homosexuals and bisexuals and druggies and divorced and depressed–all will be drawn to the church. That’s the cue that we are being like Jesus. I for one am ready. I think many others are too.
If you heard the sermon on Sunday, what did you think? If you didn’t, here’s the link: http://www.christpres.org/sermons/sermons/ I would love to hear your thoughts.