Catching Jesus’ Radical Approach to Living
Those outside the Church often view church-goers as judgmental and as being out of touch with others. Because we have chosen to distance ourselves both physically and relationally, they perceive us as having a “holier than thou” attitude. Maybe they are right! Though the Father clearly intended the faithful to reflect His Son to an unbelieving world, we all too often isolate ourselves from those He has placed in our midst. This is in direct contrast to the pattern of our Lord’s life. Scripture portrays Jesus as immersing Himself with those from every walk of life, even the non-religious or social pariahs of His day. Thus we understand why Mahatma Gandhi asserted, “I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”
We need to embrace the One we are following and live as He did. We need to move away from the “my church” perception and heartily acknowledge that it is His Church. We need to view the Church as something more than the building we sit in on Sunday morning, and begin viewing ourselves as His Church for a given city or geographical region. Pastors, leaders, and congregations need to come together as one in a city with the single purpose of demonstrating the love of God to our neighbors and reveal the gospel of our Lord’s Kingdom to all those living in our communities.
When I first moved into Neighborhood Initiative, I didn’t realize that the Lord could use neighboring ministry to bring about unity and reformation of His Church.
But think about it. If we actually begin to actively love our neighbors, then we will probably encounter brothers and sisters from other congregations who just happen to live in our neighborhoods. Are we going to avoid them, or are we going to invite them to join us in loving our neighbors as ourselves? Remember what He told us: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John13:34, 35 NIV).
I believe the Lord has us in a corner with this neighboring thing. He is calling us to love those from other churches in our own neighborhoods as He has loved us. This is reformation. He is calling His Church to become “churches without borders.” This may be threatening to some, but this is where the Lord is leading His Church, and it will entail pastors encouraging those under their care to join with believers from other congregations and demonstrate the love of God right in their own neighborhoods. This is exactly what is needed if we want to see revival and awakening occur in our cities.
Just imagine if pastors and leaders in every city were working together, leading a movement to bring the love of Christ and His kingdom to every neighborhood throughout this country. What if pastors embraced the Whole Church . . . Jesus’ Church . . . and showed genuine love and concern for one another? What if followers of Jesus in every neighborhood began to work together to show the love of Jesus and bring His kingdom to their neighborhoods?
There is a move of God afoot today . . . the corporate body of Christ is working together as one to replicate the life and ministry of Jesus in the cities and neighborhoods where He has placed us. It is not breaking out in just one location, or even a few. God is launching something that is sweeping through His people, bringing new life to His Church, and touching lives all across our country.