As followers of God, we can never settle for a world of the haves and the have nots. There is too great a chasm between the two, too great a separation to be left alone. That’s not a call for you to give all you have to someone else, but a challenge for you to live all you can with someone else – with someone who doesn’t look and act and think like you – someone who needs the gifts you have to offer; and someone whose gifts you didn’t even know you needed to receive.
If we do not work to overcome the divides; if we do not encounter the love of God that heals our wounds and overcomes our brokenness – then we might as well be the rich man eating sumptuously every day. And if we do not commit to being good stewards of the many blessings God has given us, we cannot hope to transform the world.
God has always chosen and used broken and imperfect people to build the kingdom of God. There never was and never will be a perfect group of spotless Christian people. But every time we gather, we remember that God has always invited us to be the hands and feet of Christ. God has always empowered us to be salt and light. God has always chosen us to be the vehicle through which God will love and transform the whole world.
1 Corinthians 3:1-9
Salt and light. You are the seasoning that brings out the hidden flavor. You are the light that enables the world to see. You don’t just live, you experience the fullness of what life in Christ has to offer. You don’t just stumble blindly, you illuminate the truth and beauty that is all around. And when you act like salt and light, the whole world begins to catch a glimpse of your Father in Heaven.
This is the statement that leads Jesus into saying that not one letter or stroke of a letter in the law will pass away before all is accomplished. The point of the law is not you. You are NOT the point of the law. The point of the law is becoming the salt and light for the world.
In Christ we see that to do justice is not to get what you deserve. To do justice is to give until it hurts and all things are set right. To love kindness is not to let anything and everything go. To love kindness is to value the person above the rule; to aim for the new life that is possible rather than settle for the way things have always been. To walk humbly with your God is not to hide from every confrontation or keep quiet about your faith. To walk humbly is to give up control and stop thinking that any of us could come up with a perfect list of the fundamentals of anything meaningful.
You are not and will never make yourself perfect; and for that you are loved all the more.
In which Joseph writes a not so flattering Yelp review of the inn…
“At it’s heart, the Christian faith is about making room where there is none…
What begins as a story with no room in the inn, ends with a story of room for all who are willing to come and see. Jesus constantly pushed the boundaries to invite others closer to him. He lived his life unafraid to let people in and by doing so empowers us to know and be known…
To be loved with and even through our failures and shortcomings is the most profound kind of love we can hope for. In Christ, we are loved not because of our ability to be perfect, but through our willingness to be vulnerable. We are accepted not because of the value we add to some divine economy, but because we are God’s children.”
“Until we learn to truly listen, until we care more about how someone else feels than about the letter of the law, until we stop forcing our agendas and start treasuring children of God, the world isn’t going to change.”
Sometimes being seen and heard is all it takes for everything to change. That’s a fundamental conviction I carry with me in all that I say and do as a pastor. We don’t need to put on some idealized or cartoon-ish mask of holiness and perfection. We aren’t called to say the right “church words” or hide behind Christian sounding concepts and ideas. We need to be seen and heard for exactly who we are – and to realize that through Christ we are loved and treasured all the more for it. If we know that kind of embrace, there is nothing we cannot do or face in life. If we never find it, no amount of knowledge or action or fight will stop the ground from shaking beneath our feet.
To be seen and heard does more to empower the life changing work of God’s grace than any tidbit of knowledge or interesting idea or compelling argument every could. The most pressing and needed work of the church is to create the space in which God’s children from all walks of life are able to come together and experience what it means to be seen and heard. To be treasured is to know the sure foundation of the love of God, AND to offer that love to neighbors near and far.