Advancing the Conversation of Jesus
I was shocked and pleased to read an article by Karl Vaters for Christianity Today: “Why Successful Churches Aren’t Turning The World Upside-down…But The Outcasts Might”
Karl begins, “Jesus was the most culture-challenging, paradigm-shifting, tradition-breaking, change agent who ever lived. How did his followers become so boring?
Want cutting-edge, society-shifting change? Church is the last place people expect to find it. Want dry, stuffy, moldy, old traditions and ideas? That may be the very definition of church in many people’s minds.”
“This is a problem. A big problem. And it’s our fault. We’ve taken the life-and society-transforming message of Jesus and we’ve made it about . . . success. Trying to maintain that success has made us safe. Safe is boring. Where are the Christian innovators who will put a dangerous passion for Jesus ahead of personal ministry success?”
“I pray for an infusion of Godly change agents who won’t just transform the institutional church, but make the world stand up and take notice. Or, more likely, change the world and leave the institutional church playing catch-up.”
“Any real-life, world-changing, spirit-infused, culture-shaping, paradigm-shifting, hurt-healing movement will come where it’s always come from. From the bottom-up. From the disenfranchised. From the nerds and weirdos.” From those who have been viewed as outcasts and heretics!
It’s interesting to note what happened in the city of Thessalonica. Paul and Silas spoke at the local synagogue there for three Sabbaths, reasoning with them from the Scriptures, saying that Jesus is God’s Messiah. Some of the Jews (the religious) were persuaded, along with a large number of non-Jews. SO, the Jews who were holding on to their synagogue success became jealous of the outsiders, who were bringing this new message of God’s Messiah. They found some wicked men and formed a mob to stop these Jesus people from turning their world upside-down. (Acts 17)
Jesus warned his early disciples of this very thing. He said: “They will make you outcasts from the synagogue, but an hour is coming for everyone who kills you to think that he is offering service to God. These things they will do because they have not known the Father or Me.” (John 16)
Who was it who was threatened by the Jesus movement? The religious leadership of the organized religious system of the day. It was those who were comforted by the same-old, same-old, comfortable ways of doing things. This was manageable, predictable, and boring!
The Jesus movement is a risky venture, because it is personally directed by Jesus, who is uncontrollable, unpredictable, and irresistibly attractive! This is the kind of movement of outcasts that will turn the world upside-down in this generation. Will you play it safe or join the movement?