We cannot read the narrative of the life of Jesus without seeing change going on often hidden in a number of different actions, words and motives in action. It comes down to comments that Jesus made such as “…you say this but I say…”, outlining a change of life style, order and action in that very moment when people encountered this Jesus. It makes me wonder how many of us bring about change in the people we meet, in their concepts, practices and lifestyles? I say this totally believing that this is our gospel of the Kingdom and what the gospel calls us to become and to be, those who announce change and enable change at every hand in humanity. That my preaching is not about the performance or the rhetoric but more about it being a stage in the listener’s life of enabling transformation or simply enabling different thinking patterns.
Jesus had this knack of, “…you say this but I say…” constantly, for some it was liberating for others it produced a reaction, with some getting angry to the demands, awakening people to they lives lived by a religious scale, it’s a precious lesson for us to know asking ourselves “..at what level of a religious scale do I live at or with”? I hear some saying as a reaction “…Listen I am not religious, I am a Christian, it’s about relationships…” really, but where are you on your religious scale, my question still stands. We all have some religion that we are being liberated from, when we look at our lives in the cool of day I am sure we would agree that there is religion there. The joy is we have a way of liberation of freedom on offer as we listen to the “you say this but I say this” directions. It is things changing in us then around us!
When Jesus arrived, the book of Hebrews summed it up, there was a change of priesthood happening, with laws and practices moving from shadows and pictures into reality in the life of Christ. The message becomes “…better…” as the Hebrews write declare many times, better covenant, better priesthood, better… So when God came to earth when mankind embraced the divine and Jesus arrived in Nazareth religious vessels broke, patterns of old ways had to change, rules came undone and a new kind of life broke in and the “…Kingdom of God came amongst men…”
For instance if you were a Rabbi you were not supposed to talk to Samaritans, heal on the Sabbath, challenge the Religious, hang out with fishermen, get your feet washed by ladies of unknown origin, go to dinner with tax collectors , travel with women and the list continues on and on – Things Changed, things are changing!
Jesus did all that and more, it did not bother him to challenge the status quo or what others thought, in our day, I believe a of restoration and as a restorer that we are here to restore society it still means I don’t need to fit in and I do need to be a catalyst of change to a Jesus way. I should not simply fit in as a matter of fact I should bring about change and be the incarnation of God in my daily life in my society, showing grace and bringing the demand for Justice and righteousness in what ever way the situation and circumstance demands.
Our cultures are changing at breakneck speed, it is hard to keep up, the church, that is, you and I, are to be the cause of change and not just reactors to the changes. This is restoration, causing cultural change, causing the Kingdom of God to come to our worlds with in worlds is it not?
Here are some of the things in dealing with the people of God and in dealing with what we call ministry that are changing; but first I want to list some of the older patters that need to change and are being transformed for us by a new priesthood.
Be loyal to your denominations – do what they say it is for the best – yet in our world where the relationship word is strong and has a growing influence and vocabulary use and relationships and covenant is becoming more demanding making sure that relationship/covenant does not to reinvent control or incorrect demanding loyalty but to be like God in our relationship and keep faithful
Be slow to change so people don’t get uncomfortable, its been focus on who you have and done reach out
Do all you can to keep money people in the congregations – bills need paying
Make doctrinal correctness your top priority – quickly correct, judge and separate deviants.
Love people who fit in your church vision and are like you. tolerate others the best you can
Lots of programs so everyone has something to do all the time, more is better, keep them looking in on the programs.
Your style of preaching/teaching is to tell people what to do as you know better. Talking down to people.
Do everything decently and in order – be predictable
I would say that all these above are under the scrutiny of change in some way or another, they are all on a journey of being discovers and restored correctly or done away with in a new culture though a reformation that is happening all around us. Each one of the above could and should be discussed in their own right to see the change look at its implication but this is not my aim today.
Now lets turn a page and look at some new ways that may be in your street right now.
Care, Care, Care really care for people. people know if you don’t. Society around cannot deal with real, authentic loving relationships when centered on Christ. Be a careful we still get caught in judging quicker than loving.
Enhance Life. Do something in your community to enhance life being socially minded, it gives people something to take to others and helps to give a point of conversation.
Teach accurately – help people to hear God for themselves in a world with so many voices and opportunities in hearing the word. Making teaching simple by the teaching through relevant topics.
Speak bluntly DONT OFFEND PEOPLE FOR NO REASON. sometimes we must say things to help people in the complexity of life, most will appreciate your courage of conviction as long as you don’t judge. here is an old one don’t use the teaching and preaching to vent frustration what you don’t like, BE CHRIST TO PEOPLE reach, accept and love while changing.
Involve in mission all people
Media – use it but not over kill. People want people not celluloid, authenticity means life touching life not film, video, media saying it all, there is nothing fleshed out, there is no message. Use it to enhance life and not instead of life, easier said than done some times for techies.
Change quickly when it’s not working, no method is in stone, find better ways all the time, bring people to change and be sure of change – ITS THE GOSPEL! help people’s emotion to be able to change.
Authentic – BE IT people see and recognize emptiness a long way off, or some one full of words and no authenticity, be honest about your failures but don’t use them or live from or on them, don’t use them for emotional currency it will not build, just be authentically in love with God and his people and be authentic yourself..
Practical what you say or teach either works or it does not, if it does not you will lose friends and eventually all but if your practical works you will gain friends.
Be a little crazy shake up, adventure, take a step, break through Peoples tipping point, give people a reason to be out there and of course give opportunity while you model adventure.
In all these see if you can adopt and try changing, let the something changing be you?