James 2:1-4 My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism. Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?
At our Church we have begun a series on the “Church has left the building”. Basically, it is a push to reach outside of the walls of our Church to our community. Prior to this series (the series has just allowed this to bubble back up) I have had conviction and discontent with how for the most part American Churches as a whole seem to act more like Country Clubs. By the way, I am “guilty as charged” in joining this mentality.
· It’s a fellowship of believers
· It’s a place to equip believers for outreach and service
· It’s the people, not the building
· It’s where we worship God
· It’s where we sharpen each other
· It’s a place of prayer
There is more, but I think you get the theme here. All of these things are good and true. But somewhere along the way, we have lost out intention and have become an exclusive club. We as a Church act as if we have the answer and those outside do not. We act as if we have the answers, have it all together, and our salvation is intact. In our efforts to insulate ourselves from the world, I think we have, in large part, isolated ourselves from the world.
Jesus did not isolate himself from the world. He was different than both the “sinner” and the religious leaders. He was among the world, yet His standards we solid. I think about how Jesus treated the woman caught in adultery. He accepted her in her most vulnerable state. She was caught in sin and totally exposed. And, He told her to go and sin no more. He was with her, not isolated from her and was not influenced to change His truth. Most of Jesus criticism came when He was around the non-“Country Club” members.
It is natural for me, and I suspect others, to seek company of those like me. There is nothing wrong with that desire and action. When I make that exclusive for me however, I am no longer being the hands and feet of Jesus. And when I isolate myself long enough, I begin to turn away those who need Jesus.
This also tells me something about my faith that I really do not want to face. When I judge and avoid those not like me…”the sinner”, deep inside I fear that they may drag me into their world. That somehow my faith will not be strong enough to keep me holy and sanctified. Or, sometimes I fear their judgment of the “goody two-shoes Christian” I personify for them. Do I believe in God and the power of the Holy Spirit enough to walk outside the Country Club and be okay?
What must I do? A start is to go back to a model that I mentioned in a blog article last year titled: Grace and Truth… It is the idea of progressing through the steps of belong, believe and behave. In our “Country Club” we call those outside to behave, and then believe, and then they can belong. This is actually pushing people away. When we look at Jesus, he helped them feel a sense of belonging, then they believed, and out of that belief, they began to behave differently. This goes against a “Country Club” mentality and can be quite uncomfortable. Yet, this is how Jesus reached the “sinner”. This is where I need to begin. As time passes, I will see where God leads me next.
There is a blog where one can get a feel for how outsiders see the Church as a whole. The blog is simply titled: Holy Soup. Although I do not always agree with some of what is written or some of the comments, the blog is a great place to stretch and grow and look at Church through other’s eyes.
1. What comes up for you when you hear the Church being compared to a Country Club?
2. Where is that analogy true?
3. Where is that analogy lacking?
4. What makes you uncomfortable with those outside the Church?
5. There was a list of definitions for Church. What would you add to the list?
6. What is God calling you to do after reading this article?
7. My challenge this week is for you to start a discussion through comment to this blog.
Click HERE to purchase Weekly Devotional Thoughts: Weekly Applications of God’s Word on Amazon Kindle and write a review.
Don't forget to visit my Amazon links. General purchases: Click on the Banner at the top of the blog. For a list of my favorites go to: http://astore.amazon.com/weekldevottho-20