Monday, July 10, 2006

That's Not OK...

Patrick Mead preaches for the Rochester, Michigan church. This post from his blog last week is worth reading. (Reposted with permission)

That's Not Okay With Me...

According to the last census, Detroit is the most African-American city in the US. Bordering Detroit is Livonia, declared the whitest city in the US by that same census. Eight Mile Road is a border land inhabited by Chaledeans (Iraqis, mainly Christian) who have their own closed community. I could go on and on because the tribal lines everywhere here and those lines are walls; and woe be unto anyone who wants to breach them.

That's not okay with me.

Jesus launched a revolution where he replaced 600+ laws on religion with a new rule: "The only thing that matters is faith expressing itself in love" (Galatians 5). Since that time Christians have scurried to make new laws, new walls, new barriers.

That's not okay with me.

We sit in worship with people who look like us, who like the things we like, and with whom we are comfortable. Outside are single mothers, rockers, slackers, addicts, the divorced, the slaves of consumerism, gray minions of corporate America, skateboarders and.... you get the idea. None of them will ever feel comfortable with our ways or in our buildings. In those rare instances in which they want to be a part of us, we force them to become us first! They have to be more like us, agree with our preferences, and behave themselves.... then and only then are they allowed access to the Kingdom.

That's not okay with me.

My neighborhood is full of young couples with children. Toys, bikes, swingsets, and forts are in every yard but ours. We are the old folk here. On Sundays, only a couple families from this subdivision go to worship. None go with us and none will consider driving the 20-30 minutes it takes to get to Rochester Hills from our home. They won't go with me, so should I leave them to their fate?

That's not okay with me.

Dearborn Heights, an area about a forty minute drive from my house, has the largest concentration of Muslims of any place in the US. Drive another hour south and, just as you leave Toledo and enter the flat northwest corner of Ohio, there is a huge and opulent mosque reminding you of who has congregated here. Reaching Muslims is difficult (always) and can be dangerous (rarely). Chances of success are small. Most people write them off, turn slightly away from the swarthy man boarding the bus or the plane, stand next to them in line at Meijers, saying nothing, and then go to a segregated, safe place on Sunday and sing "Anywhere with Jesus."

That's not okay with me.

If I have to form evangelistic small groups to target each of these people for Jesus, I'm okay with that. If that makes some of my brethren nervous because their comfortable, predictable church order is changed around and their preferences (and ease) are no longer the greatest priority, I'm saddened by their attitude, but I'm okay with that, knowing that doors swing both ways and keeping them in and happy means keeping out everybody else. I will not trade one soul for a million, not if it is over a matter of taste and tradition rather than a plainly stated "thus sayeth the Lord."

I'm just not okay with that.

Will we fail? Yes. Probably several times. But the greatest failure of all would be to keep doing what we have always been doing and expect God to change everybody else in the world so that they will look, like, and think like us... and then magically come in and sit quietly with us at church. It would require ignoring the Great Commission, the Revolution of Jesus, and the facts of the gospel. It would require us to shrug our shoulders and consign the rest of the world to hell.

That's not okay with me. Is it with you?

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