“When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees [rule-following religious teachers] saw him eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: ‘Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?’
On hearing this, Jesus said to them, ‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.’”
Christian music, Christian books, Christian movies, Christian television, Christian clothing, Christian YouTube, Christian coffee houses…
The list could go on forever.
Those seeking to live a “Christian” existence could easily live in a nearly exclusive Christian “bubble,” placing a wall between Christians and the rest of humanity, while very rarely coming into contact with unbelievers. While this may sound utopian to many people, it is an extremely far cry from the life a person seeking to emulate Jesus would participate… It’s also a far cry from the idea of glorifying God over man. Often we fall into the trap of worshiping the “creation” rather than the “Creator.” We look to those proclaiming Christ (and charging rather heftily for their proclamation), rather than the Jesus they purport to proclaim.
“They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator–who is forever praised.” –Romans 1:25
[If these “Christian icons” were really seeking to follow Jesus, they would be using their resources to help others… but that is a matter for another day.]
Let me back up for a moment… there’s nothing wrong with “Christian” music, books, etc… but when everything with which you come into contact begins with a “Christian” label, that should sound an alarm that you may be forsaking the call of Christ.
Several years ago I heard Ken Wilson speak at the Vineyard Great Lakes Regional Conference about this concept. He called it “Swimming in the ocean.” His illustration speaks perfectly to how Christians should perceive their existence as it relates to what many refer to as the “Christian bubble.”
Ken Wilson described church as being like a pool. A pool is controlled; it is sanitary. Pools are great places to heal or exercise, they’re well suited for getting healthy… but the same chemicals that sanitize will also kill after prolonged exposure. On the other hand… Oceans are unpredictable, dirty, dangerous… AND oceans are FULL OF LIFE. The message was an analogy for Christians and church.
Churches are a great place to heal, to learn, to get spiritually healthy… they’re also a great place to experience spiritual death, if you spend all your time within the church environment and never reach out. The world is messy, dangerous, unpredictable… and it’s exactly where Jesus commands us to go.
How do you reach people seeking God, if you spend all your time around people who’ve already found Him?
Easy answer: You don’t.
The “world” (or “ocean”) is exactly where Jesus went. He didn’t spend His time on the people who already claimed to be living for God, He went after those who were seeking God.
If we are calling ourselves “Christians” (which means you claim to have made Jesus the ruler of your life), then we should be following in His footsteps. Jesus’ example was to reach those desperate for God.
Jesus broke religious rules… He offended people… He destroyed cultural boundaries… He got in trouble a lot…
He had one purpose, to love people into a relationship with their Father… and, He changed the world.
…then, He called us to do the same.
Recently, I participated in a discussion with college students that focused on the question of “what is church supposed to be?”
I believe churches can be judged by what they produce. Do they produce perpetual consumers of Christian information… or do they produce changed people who, in turn, change the world?
“He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.’”
People seeking hope, love… people seeking God are messy, dramatic, problematic… and they’re exactly the type of people who Jesus used to begin building His kingdom on earth.
Who are we to stay in our safe environment and reject the very ones Jesus calls us to love?