Close Your Church for Good. Chap. 3, Part 6. This chapter continues to look at why the church must die.
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As the church, we know we must be different from the world. The issue, of course, is how? Once again, the example of Jesus is instructive. It was not His piety, holiness, or perfection that drew people to Jesus. Though Jesus was sinless, not one person in the Gospels ever comments on how holy He was. To the contrary, He was often accused of drinking and eating too much, violating the Jewish Sabbath, and blaspheming God. By religious standards, Jesus was not “above reproach.”
So what drew people to Jesus? His love and acceptance, and His identification with their pain. Such things are central to the incarnation of Jesus. Let’s look at His love and acceptance first.
With Jesus, there were no outcasts, no rejects. He never turned anybody away. He loved, accepted, and forgave everybody. He judged and condemned no one. In Jesus, the exile was over. Sinners of the worst kind felt comfortable around Jesus. He even loved, accepted, and invited the religious leaders to join Him, and only had harsh things to say about them once they started trying to trap him.
Jesus became so much like the world that worldly people felt comfortable around Him while religious people did not. Worldly people invited Him to their parties while religious people accused Him of being a sinner. If this is what Jesus meant when He taught us to be in the world but not of it, we have got things severely backward. Religious people are comfortable in church, while “sinners” are not. It seems we may be of the world, but not in it.
While we have adopted certain elements of the world to make ourselves attractive to worldly people, we did not follow the example of Jesus in becoming attractive through love, grace, forgiveness, and generosity. Instead, we mastered the worldly methods for expanding our power, multiplying our wealth, and increasing our fame. We seem to have adopted all the wrong parts. While to be “in the world,” we must become like the world, it is a fine line we must walk to keep from becoming “of the world.” Like Jesus, we must adopt the things He adopted, and reject the things He rejected. Like Jesus, we must not fear the accusation of “sinner.”