Monday, January 19, 2009

Welcoming: Transfoming Culture 2

Jesus told the disciples another story: "God's utopia is like a mustard seed, a tiny seed compared to most other seeds. But a man took that insignificant thing and planted it in his land and he let it grow. And when it grew up fully, it became a sturdy tree so strong that the birds rested in the branches. Even so, you, my disciples, are insignificant and the least. But when the Father and the Spirit are done with you, you shall be strong enough that the nations of heaven will rest comfortably within you."

This alternative society of Jesus is not to be a separatist society, but an evangelistic one. In other words, the church doesn’t protect its purity, but opens up its purity to all the world. All are to be welcome to be a part of the church, no matter how corrupt, no matter what they have done in the past, no matter how far from the ideal they are. The great task of the church is welcoming all who desire to be transformed into God’s people, and then to help them to become part of that.

We accept people as they are, but we are not content with who they are. All of us, should we be a part of Jesus, must be transformed into the image of Jesus. This is not something that happens overnight, nor does it happen before conversion. Rather, this is the process we go through that conversion begins. We assist each other, allowing the Spirit to create diamonds out of coal.

Thus, the church does not remain completely separate from the church. Jesus places parts of the church within the world, commanding them to welcome the world into the church. Within the world, the church holds onto its unique purity, a purity based on love of God and neighbor, and opens itself up to be understood by the world. More and more people become a part of this community, embracing Jesus’ ideals.

In this way, the world becomes the church. Individual by individual, family by family, soon tribes and even nations become a part of the community of Jesus’ love. People flock to be a part of the alternative community because it works better than other communities, and it is led by Jesus, our example of patience, faithfulness and endurance.

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