It seems to me one of the side effects of American wealth is a transfer of our ability to live clean and well groomed lives, into a lifestyle mandate to be clean and well groomed in all areas of our life. That side affect is a problem. When we become uncomfortable in situations that are unclean and not groomed we limit ourselves in where advance the Kingdom, to whom we advance the Kingdom, and ultimately if we are advancing the Kingdom at all.
A check on where we spend our time will give us a glimpse of when/if this side effect is at work within our members. Do we spend our time only with people with whom we are comfortable? Do we engage in friendship only with people who we consider our peers socially or economically? Is our definition of ministry helping "those poor people" whereby we donate some money or allocate some small component of time but we separate ourselves by behavior and language?
Living in abundance, blessing and favor of the Lord is a good thing and Jesus gave us a great sermon on how to walk in that abundance. He blessed the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, and those who are persecuted.
Jesus goes on: "For if you (and I) love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others?" Jesus is saying, if you and I don't befriend those who are not part of our click (clean or groomed?), we are no different than those who have no relationship with the Godhead.
Friends, we need to guard our hearts against building illegal fortresses intended to allow in only those who are, according to us, clean and groomed; and keeping out those who are, according to us, unclean and not groomed.
If those of us who are mature, would forgo our personal comfort on Sunday morning and engage those who attend our assemblies but may not look like us, act like us, walk like us, or talk like us, we will begin to form the lifestyle habits Jesus was talking about not to mention build lasting relationships with amazing sons and daughters.
If those of us who are mature would forgo our concerns with title and position inside the walls of the church and reallocate that energy to those outside the walls where it isn't so clean (whitewashed?), we will realize His promotion in our lives. Did you know that part of the Jewish bar mitzvah process is requiring 18 hours of community service by the age of 12? Did you know that one of the boy scouts requirements for advancement is to give time to community service?
I guess all I'm saying is I'm not sure continuously bathing "in the presence" inside the walls of our churches has much value if there isn't an outpouring into our community. It feels incestuous.
I'd love to hear your thoughts.
CU on the streets #berevealed