April 20, 2009

Paul Was Seeker Insensitive!

I'm going through 1 Corinthians right now and this morning I came to chapter 5. This is the part of the letter where Paul rebukes the people of the church there because they know that a man within their fellowship is living in sexual sin - sleeping with his father's wife - and they have done nothing to rebuke, confront, or remove him from the fellowship. Paul gives them very direct instructions to "cast this man out of the church". He goes on and instructs them that they should have nothing to do (not even eat) with anyone who "claims to be a Christian, yet indulges" in this behavior. Reading this got me thinking about our churches and how we do certain things.

One of the first things I thought was, "I wonder if this would be considered 'seeker sensitive'?" You talk about taking an action that would shock the fool out of someone coming in from the outside. As I have experienced being part of a congregation that walked through this hellacious trial, I can tell you that this will not be a great catalyst for your next high attendance Sunday! In this politically correct, lawsuit happy, you can't tell me what to do world we're living in...it will take serious collective guts for a church to decide to truly follow biblical instruction here. Do we have that anymore? Collective guts?

It also got me thinking about how the general "church" public defines and thinks of "worship". It's mind-numbing to realize how many Christ-followers still hear the word "worship" and think we're strictly talking about singing. We have taken almost all the other biblical aspects of our worship and collectively & corporately disregarded them. I know I've asked this before, but when was the last time you were involved in a corporate gathering where people were confessing sin? When were you gathered recently with others who openly & honestly (and out-loudly for that matter) lifted up their burdens and struggles to the Lord? Have you experienced corporate prayer? Brokenness? Reading of scripture? If we don't embrace these biblical (spiritual, beneficial, crucial) pieces of the collective worship puzzle, how could we ever even fathom following Paul's instructions to the Corinthian church?

I love the New Living Translation's version of Paul's exhortation in verse 8: "So let us celebrate the festival, not by eating the old bread of wickedness and evil, but by eating the new bread of purity and truth". This is so penetrating because it reminds us that truth and purity are perfect for each other - they not only coexist well together, they are forever married to one another! They are unbreakably bonded. In coming to grips with that I wonder, is that what we desire when we come together as the body of Christ? Do purity and truth come flowing like a mighty river out of the room when we're gathered together? Not perfection or piety or the appearance of order...but real life, gut level, hearts laid bare honesty before God and each other. Is that happening? Or is everything so pre-programmed that we just can't bear the thought?

Life as a Christ-follower is messy, inconvenient & rough around the edges. I'm not sure how you make all of that "seeker sensitive". But maybe the real problem is that we've forgotten what all those seekers are really seeking. Truth. Authenticity. Restoration. Jesus. That's what they're seeking! The question is - when they walk among us - is that what they're finding?

Will we have the collective guts to BE the church He has called us to be?

1 comment:

Godbepraised said...

It seems like the route to truly being gracious is the least obvious when blatant sin is most obviously among us.