"The Bible promises--and history confirms--that close encounters with the lived-out gospel will be attractive and compelling."
--Fritz Kling, from The Meeting of the Waters
Friends, that is really good news.
Because in this moment, there are some startling statistics that I can't get out of my head.
When non-Christians aged 16 to 29 years old were asked, “What is your current perception of Christianity?” here’s how they responded:
- 91% anti-homosexual
- 87% judgmental
- 85% hypocritical
- 78% old-fashioned
- 75% too involved in politics
- 70% out of touch with reality
- 70% insensitive to others
Woah. Oh man, does that bother anyone else?
On this Maundy Thursday, I just got a history lesson from Facebook, and more specifically, from a status update taken from Tapestry Church of the Nazarene:
"Maundy" comes from the the latin word 'Mandatum' (from which we get the English word 'mandate'). It is a verb that means "to give," "to entrust," or "to order." The term is sometimes translated as "commandment."
According to John, as Jesus and the Disciples were eating their final meal together before Jesus’ arrest, he washed the disciples' feet to illustrate humility and the spirit of servanthood! After they had finished the meal, Jesus "mandated" a commandent unto them:
"A new command I give you: Love one another! As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." -- John 13:34-35
Those statistics tell me that WE, the Church that bears the name of Jesus Christ, are not doing a very good job of following that commandment.
But the thing is, Jesus wasn't really about general statistics. He wasn't really about ideologies and therums. Jesus was about people. Meeting them where they were, knowing them, loving them, and calling them to something more.
If Jesus was about people, shouldn't we be about them to? Knowing them? It's hard to be anti-_____________ when you know the person who is identified by that blank. It starts with meeting them, right where they are, and continues with knowing. And then loving. Not just in theory, but with action.
Then, just maybe, we can be identified as disciples of Jesus Christ, our Savior who gave his life up to bear our sins and conquer death and the power of sin.
So friends, may we love recklessly, not holding anything back. This, and only this, will lead people to an encounter with the lived-out gospel. Which in turn, will be attractive and compelling for those around us who have never seen the power of the gospel.