Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Inviting outsiders, not coddling insiders

Living Water Christian Church is preparing for Easter, which falls on April 4 this year.

More than preparing with invite cards, sermons on evangelism and encouragements to pray for and invite our friends to Easter, I'm working to prepare my heart.

Many people have preconceptions of Easter Sunday services ... the choir cantatas, the rousing resurrection sermons, the "up from the grave he arose!"

This Sunday, we're challenging people to turn to Jesus, the one who can help them become the best version of themselves!  We're kicking off a sermon series called "The Me I Want To Be" and inviting our friends, neighbors, co-workers, family members to encounter the person who can create their own best version of "me."

I'm challenging myself to show the unchurched people around me who Jesus really is.  Maybe that's babysitting, lending a hand out to their car at the grocery store, paying for their meal at Burger King, dropping off a bag of groceries with an anonymous "I love you" from Jesus.

We're not inviting people who already know Jesus.  We can't.  They already know the way, the truth and the life.  Jesus isn't calling the righteous, but the sinners ... the "sin-sick, not the spiritually-fit." (Mark 2:17 - the Message)

The Message interpretation of the Bible is sometimes harsh, but hits me directly where I need to hear it: in the ninth chapter of the book of Matthew 9, Jesus is hanging out with Matthew, the sinning tax collector who is also the author of this account of Jesus' life.  Jesus is eating and enjoying the company of people who are less than reputable in society, especially religious society, and they (the religious ones, the holier-than-thou, the showoffs) take him to task for it.

... Jesus, overhearing, shot back, "Who needs a doctor: the healthy or the sick? Go figure out what this Scripture means: 'I'm after mercy, not religion.' I'm here to invite outsiders, not coddle insiders." 
- Matthew 9:12-13 (the Message)

Am I an insider wanting to be coddled?  Am I one of the holier-than-thou, look-down-my-nose-at-the-dirty-people, self-righteous believers?

OR am I inviting outsiders to hear and be transformed by the amazing, life-renewing, blast-the-doors-off-death, true-life story of Jesus?

Are you?

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