Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Little League and Church

"He called a radical Jewish freedom fighter. He called a despised tax collector. He called at least three small businessmen. He called a hothead, a guy with easy ethics, some who struggled with oversize [sic] egos, and a few who had trouble accepting Gentiles (those far from God). It's no different today. Jesus seems completely aware that coming to him, we will leave other things behind, and that aspect of being involved with Jesus never stops. You don't leave your old life behind just once. You leave it behind every morning, every day." -Michael Spencer, Mere Churchianity

When I was in first grade I remember my dad signing me up for the local Little League Baseball team that was coached by our neighbor, Don. I didn't play very many years of baseball and wasn't very good but I do remember the coaching lesson that every one knows, "Keep yer eye on the ball."

When I joined the Marines I remember First Sgt. Carter explaining to us that the job description of the United States Marine Corps' was to, "Kill people and break stuff."

When I went into the ministry I remember hearing the job description was to... keep programs running, keep people happy, build bigger buildings, and don't rock the boat. Right?

And herein, as the poet says, lies the rub: evangelical churches have- as a whole- lost their original mission because if you compare our weekly activities with the things our founder said the two do not match up well with each other.

"They will know you are my followers by your love for one another."... then why are our buildings so full of drama, strife, and petty bickering? Why are Christians the most easily offended?

"Go and make disciples."... then why do we constantly talk about "inviting people to church" instead of meeting them where they are in the world? Ask a believer how many non-believers they routinely hangout with. The answer is almost always less than 5.

"Love your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and the second command is like it, love your neighbor as yourself."... do we even know our neighbors anymore? Where is the concern for the least, the last, and the lost? Why doesn't every church support shelters, AA groups, homosexual ministries, HIV/AIDS hospitals and care units, discuss and fight pornography, and spend time ministrying in bars?

What I am asking is, as coined by Michael Spencer (www.internetmonk.com) is this: is our church spirituality truly Jesus-centered spirituality? Or is it more of a nice spiritual country club?

My coach, Don, from years ago, still rings in my ears: "Keep yer eye on the ball." If the ball, the focus is really Jesus, have we taken our eyes off of Him?

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