Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Love of Jesus

Here's a powerful quote from Tim Keller's book The Prodigal God.

“[In every example in the New Testament] when Jesus meets a religious person and a sexual outcast (Luke 7) or a religious person and a racial outcast (John 3-4) or a religious person and a political outcast (Luke 19), the outcast is the one who connects with Jesus and the elder-brother type does not. Jesus says to the respectable religious leaders 'the tax collectors and the prostitutes enter the kingdom before you.' (Matthew 21:31)

“Jesus’ teachings consistently attracted the irreligious while offending the Bible-believing, religious people of his day. However, in the main, our churches today do not have this effect. The kind of outsiders Jesus attracted are not attracted to contemporary churches, even our most avant-garde ones. We tend to draw conservative, buttoned-down, moralistic people. The licentious and liberated or the broken and marginal avoid church. This can only mean one thing. If the preaching of our ministers and the practice of our parishioners do not have the same effect on the people that Jesus had, then we must not be declaring the same message that Jesus did. If our churches aren't appealing to younger brothers, they must be more full of elder brothers than we'd like to think."


Joe said...

That is very interesting. I would add that even in Jesus' time, lots of people of all kinds rejected His teachings and his New Testament followers included 'conservative, buttoned-down, moralistic people.'
What specifically do you think the church in general needs to add or take away from what is happening today? I have a few family members and friends who fall into the irreligious, licentious and liberated and broken and marginal and therefore think the church has nothing to offer except a thumbs down and a scornful/condescending stare.

Donnie Miller said...

Good question, Kumah. We'll see if I have any coherent response.

It would be interesting to reread in the gospels as to why religious people rejected Jesus. If memory serves me correctly (from both the gospels and "The Prodigal God" by Tim Keller) the religous people rejected Jesus because they didn't like his view of God, didn't like who he "let in" and didn't like that he devalued their rules and traditions. I'm thinking that's different than why 'licentious' people would reject Jesus. They don't want to give up their "fun."

Although, now that I think of it, they're probably not that much different. The question is where do we get our sense of worth, or value, or life? It usually comes from one of two places (if it isn't coming from the true source, our Father's love) 1) from our pride in following the "rules" or 2) in the thrill of self-indulgence. Jesus calls us to leave both behind.

Most pastors/ church leaders or even the entirety of most congregations come under category 1. This includes myself, big time. I'm a rule-following personality. But we have to let that go and realize that our sin of pride is just as harmful to our relationship with God as sins of self-indulgence. When good, rule-following religious folks can accept their own sin and look to God for their worth and no longer to their own performance, they might be able to create an atmosphere within their church community in which the licentius/ younger-brother types feel welcome and eventually experience the life-transforming love of God.

I gave a good summary of this whole idea from Keller's book in this sermon, which you can read online.


What do you think about those ideas?