Oh my goodness! Sometimes the header on this blog is truer than others. My bean is so saturated right now that it is almost painful. It is time to get some of it out.
The primary thing that is circling my synapses is the issue of unity in the body. This has been a constant for some years now and I think saturation comes when I pile too much on top of it. Normally I then offload the stuff on top and leave the trove beneath it alone. Not so today. Today I will chance possibly offending some people(it's a blog afterall, the offended can comment or surf on right?) in the off chance that I may actually encourage someone else.
My friend Nathan once blogged about the passage in Matthew 25 about the sheep and the goats and was pondering some aspects of it on his site here and here. It really got me to thinking about a lot of the things that I have taken for granted about the bible and what I believe about it. There are so many passages that I have been finding lately that I used to just breeze over because " I already know that stuff". It has been great to get in there and stir up some of these. This Matthew one in particular has been at the forefront (along with Matthew 18).
After reading this over the first thing that jumped out at me was that we always say," As you have done it unto one of the least of these, you have done it to me", but do you notice what is missing?? It actually says,"As you have done it unto one of the least of these, my brethren, you have done it unto me". Interesting. It puts a whole new spin on it, doesn't it? Especially when we remember that Jesus said that His bretheren were those who did the will of His Father. So if I go back into the passage and insert this into what He was saying, then He was saying that these things were being done to Christians, not unbelievers. It sure changes all those missions messages I heard where they used this passage. It changes even more when I look at the overall context of what he was saying. This passage actually starts in chapter 24 with an answer to the question about the end of the age. In that there is an interesting piece that rarely gets mentioned about a servant who beats on his fellowservants and starts into drinking and eating with drunkards. The master gets a little ticked at this particular servant and sends him off to the same place where the goats are sent later on.
Again this is a passage that I only really blew by before, but now it seems to carry a rather ominous message. Of course I always thought this was about pastors and since I wasn't one I just said,"Whew!" and moved on. Now I am not so sure that it is just the guy out front who needs the heads-up. I say this because afterwards Jesus started talking about oil and talents and what people were doing/not doing with them. Then He moves on to the sheep and the goats part. Hmmmm, do you see a theme here?
I believe that what He is saying is that it is very important how we treat the people of the household of faith. I'm not going to get into who is in that house right now, because that is only safely discussed once we realise this first part.
These days it is hard to get away from the missions thrust into the marketplace, which is great. It is about time we get out from the pews and take our faith out where it can breathe. Problem is though, sometimes it feels like any invitation into the 'house' (again, I am not getting into what the house is here) is an invitation to what looks like a bar brawl. There is just as much infighting in Christian circles as there is on the outside. Even if in our own little tribe there is relative peace you wouldn't have to stretch the circle too far beyond our borders to start up the systematic dismantling of everything that is wrong everywhere else. This is really no different than any other grouping of friends. It seems there are precious few places in Christendom that you can go to find something truly different. By different I don't mean how we do Sunday, if we do Sunday or even why we do Sunday. What I mean is a place where the love is evident within and for those without our particular camp. Love for those who do 'that Sunday thing' and for those who do 'that Saturday thing'. Love for all the saints, whether they look like us or not.
When you look at the church of the first century it boggles the mind to think of the numbers of people who were getting saved in an atmosphere of harsh persecution. Not just name calling and mean looks, but horrific tortures and beastial executions. These people had to know what the empire thought about Christians and yet they came in numbers great enough to anchor the church all across the Roman empire. Perhaps, just perhaps, part of it was the fact that within the tribe/tribes of these believers there were some unbelieveable things happening. They were actually looking after the widows and orphans in their ranks. People loved each other enough to sell their property to ensure that the others would survive and have enough to eat. People from other cities who had never met, but knew that Christ was professed, gave themselves to poverty to see that those other believers would have enough to live. These things were unheard of in the rest of the empire. These things are relatively unheard of today, unless you count Oprah and Extreme Home Makeover. Of course when we do hear of this it is typically rich folks asking the masses to give for the masses while they conference call from their Gulfstream. I digress.
Perhaps, just perhaps the decline of Christendom in the West would cease when we call a ceasefire on each other and walk out all the things the Holy Spirit, through Paul, taught us to do to each other. Wow! Can you imagine??? Can you feel your heart yearning for such a thing??? If so, the easiest way to act is to find the person or peoples who have populated your churchside tirades and forgive them. Ouch!#%$&*! Now that that tooth is pulled and is not hurting you anymore the next step is to do a no strings attached blessing of that person, knowing all the while that you are doing it to Jesus. The next thing is to pray that this sort of craziness would begin to spread.
What do you see when you crack open that door????