Jesus People, Jesus Church

“God is love.” (1 John 4:16)

As you likely know or are experiencing these days, many, many Christians in America are de-constructing and hopefully reconstructing their faith. This is most true for us who have called ourselves evangelical Christians. There’s an endless abundance of criticism, much of it warranted. The most unifying theme is that the church has wandered away from Jesus, who embodies and acts out the love of God. The call is for the church to come back to Christ and seek to follow Jesus into a radical life of loving.

The other day two other writers gave me words for what I feel but find it hard to say, regarding this reformation going on right before our eyes. The first comes from pastor and blogger Judy Howard Peterson, who envisions the Church coming to a renewed life in this way:

“The life of Jesus, as recorded in the biblical text, clearly reveals a way of living that preferences mercy over judgment, inclusion over exclusion, and radical love over lines drawn by religion. As followers of Jesus, I am convinced these must be our ways.

So simple yet profound, so disarming and inviting is this description of how our ministry might collectively embody the ministry of Jesus. Such good news the gospel will be if we are able to embrace these ways of Jesus.

Tension comes though as many of us, and a part of each of us is resistant to Jesus, just as the religious community was back then. To locate holiness and Godliness in love and mercy still gets the same indictment from much of the religious community that called Jesus a blasphemer. As soon as we sense a call to open up and welcome all people, our fear takes over and we exclude. It’s all so tough for us to move out and away from our religion into the radical life of following Jesus.

In Richard Rohr’s book “The Universal Christ” which I’ve marked up all over– the sign of a good book — Richard comes at it this way:

“What are we to do with such divine irresponsibility, such endless largesse, such unwillingness on God’s part to build walls, circle wagons, or create unneeded boundaries?…we need to look at Jesus until we can look out at the world with his kind of eyes. The world no longer trusts Christians who “love Jesus” but do not seem to love anything else. In Jesus Christ, God’s own broad, deep, and all-inclusive world view is made available to us.” (pp. 32 and 34).

As with just about everything, it comes down to love, and indeed the particular love of God which see on full display in Jesus. As painful as the process is in the Church in the world is these days, I believe we are gaining on the courageous love of Jesus that turns the world upside down. In that I rejoice, even though it’s a painful journey along the way.

God bless us, one and all!

Peter Hawkinson

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