We are continuing to look into the "may your Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven" concept. I mentioned in last week's blog that poor or misguided theology can often times attribute to overemphasizing some things, while often times looking past the more important things. Have you ever heard the phrase "he or she is so heavenly-minded that they're no Earthly good?" I actually love that phrase & have used it often but the reality is that if one's thoughts are truly heavenly then they will be by (removed: wilaunt) their very nature, useful to someone or something on Earth. Jesus is our greatest example of this when he said things like: "if you've seen me, you've seen the Father (who is in Heaven)" or "I only do what I see my Heavenly Father doing".
It's amazing how we the church, the very body of Christ, can justify our judging and labeling of others. When did we become so self-righteous? We can justify it all we want but the world has taken notice and have chosen to spend their time on boating or playing golf or simply reading the Sunday morning newspaper instead of actually participating in weekend worship service with other believers. In fact, we live in one of the least "churched" cities in the entire US (50th out of 51, just ahead of Portland, Oregon). There might be many reasons for this (sunshine, boating, fishing, beaches...) but one major reason might be our refusal to give people room and accept them where they are without pouncing on them with judgement or correction.
Look at a parable of Jesus in Mathew 21:
‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’ "‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went. “Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go....Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you.
I find it interesting that Jesus does not portray the Father as someone who gets upset at the one who refused the invitation. He doesn't lecture him, try to intimidate him with fear or threats but rather keeps the offer on the table. The text says that "later" he changed his mind but it doesn't say how much later. Was it 15 minutes, several days or perhaps even years? Now I'm not sure why anyone would wait for even a second if the God of the universe is giving you a personal invitation and I do acknowledge that there is some inherent danger in doing so, but I understand as we can be anything from stubborn, broken, deceived... and probably all of the above. I am thrilled that God is patient and allows us to "reconsider" His offer. So if that's the heart of the Father who is in Heaven, may those of us down here on Earth model that.
May our churches in this city and across the nation be welcoming of the "I-will-notters", the doubters and skeptics, providing them the room necessary for the invitation of the Father to sink in before being chased off by self-righteousness, judgmental & unloving attitudes & behavior. May we act here on earth the way Jesus did and "be" as our Father is in Heaven.
- What are ways you feel we as individuals or us collectively as a church community could be more welcoming, hospitable & loving to the doubters, skeptics & the "I-will-notters"?
- How can we create a dialogue where people who struggle to grasp issues of faith feel safe to honestly express themselves without being judged, criticized or marginalized?