I was on the way to a late night coffee house to do a bible study and prayer time with a friend. The coffee house is a pretty dark place, and is in a sketchy part of Minneapolis. We did studies there often to build relationships and be witnesses. This time, we accidentally missed our exit twice despite having been to this coffee shop numerous times. We got off on a different exit to turn around when we spotted a homeless man on the side of the road. There was nothing particularly special about his appearance – he looked like any other homeless person that most people would write off as a drug addict or lazy. But the Lord saw a specific person “named Andrew but whose friends called him Drew.” That night Jesus showed us His heart for this man, a man whom he loved, and God chose to use us to bless Drew, and Drew to bless us.
We pulled over, invited him into our car, and took him to dinner.
Truthfully, I was checking the time to make sure that we were going to get to the coffee house in time to get in the Word. After all, that was the ministry we came to do. To sit in a dark place and be quiet lights. And that’s when the Lord broke my heart for what breaks his, because I had idolized a bible study over the living, breathing, man that didn’t even own a bible. The man named Drew who didn’t know God, and who had never been invited to dinner off the streets, and who had a story worth sharing.
Friends, this is an open letter to the Church, capital C, of my personal observations. The Church as in the body of Christ, not the First Church of Christ or the second one or the Catholic one or the Evangelical church across the street from those. This is a letter to the Church, of which I am a part of, and of which, if you are a professing Christian, you are a part of.
We have turned ourselves into a thing rather than a people. We have institutionalized a relationship. We have deemed it inappropriate to eat with sinners and to recline with tax collectors. If a Christian is seen out at a bar, it’s assumed that they’re being sinful, not being ministers of the gospel. Where are the homeless people sitting on Sunday mornings? The adulterers? The thieves? The fatherless? If we’re honest, it’s typically not in our pews.
The gospel is offensive. It was offensive in Jesus’ day, and it’s offensive today. It’s offensive because it’s not an exclusive offer. It’s not socially correct and it doesn’t make sense. The highest will become the lowest and the lowest will be exalted. It’s an earthly kingdom turned upside down, a gospel for the poor in spirit and heavy laden. The gospel makes people uncomfortable because it doesn’t care about social boundaries. It’s invasive and it’s true and it’s life giving and it’s love in the rawest form.
“And he will become a sanctuary and a stone of offense and a rock of stumbling to both houses of Israel…”
The gospel is naturally offensive. We don’t need to add to it by our attitudes of hate and judgement. We need to steward the gospel in, yes truth (and difficult truth at that), but truth in love. We need to present it to people with kindness and pure motives in our hearts. To bring it to the table in a welcoming manner. People need to be invited into the kingdom. Jesus was always saying “follow me,” “come with me,” “get to know me.” He didn’t walk this earth passing up the people that were too dirty or too sinful, He invited them to be His faithful ones.
Church, shouldn’t we be doing the same?
Does it make us uncomfortable to think about inviting a homeless person to breakfast on a Sunday morning instead of going to service? Why? When loving someone gets set on the back burner because of our religious duties, we transition from disciples to pharisees. Jesus never ever supported institutions over people – He supported the Church who are His people. And as the church we need to drop our religious efforts and denominations, join together in unity, and pick up the cause of Christ: Glorification of God, reconciliation of His creation, and evangelism and discipleship of His chosen children that do not know His name.
This is not an attack, it’s a wake up call. A wake up call for me just as much for you. Be the Church and speak the truth in love.