Upholding the Ideal

Our holy Scriptures are full of lofty ideals. We listen to Jesus say, “Love your enemies,” and we realize, “Wait a second, I don’t even like my friends!” Give to everyone who asks. Never lust. Always forgive. Rejoice in persecution. Put the needs of others ahead of your own. Our Lord calls for a single-minded¬†fidelity to following him without reservation. And it’s demanding. Impossibly so. Yes, the Holy Spirit of God empowers us to do what Christ is calling us to do. But we don’t always do it. We mess up. We sin. We fall.

To borrow from Yancey, I find that, personally, I talk and write about spiritual disciplines far better than I practice them.

How about you?

Yeah, I know.

But we keep trying, right?

We never put our feet on the floor in the morning and allow that, “I’m human so I’m going to sin today. There’s no way I’m going to be perfect today. I’m going to mess up. I’m human.” No! God forbid! We strive with everything in our power and by the strength of the Spirit to pledge that, today, I’m going to be like my Lord! We don’t ever give in to the world’s conclusion that we cannot possibly be like Christ. We keep trying.

Scripture paints a beautiful picture of the Kingdom of God and the coming wedding feast of the Lamb. It’s a gathering of “every tribe and language and people and nation.” We find “the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame” around the table. Paul makes it clear that, in Christ, there is “neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female.”

I believe the very core of the Gospel of Jesus is that our Christ died and rose again in order to destroy completely and eternally all the barriers that exist between God and man and man and one another. Social distinctions. Cultural differences. Language obstacles. Socio-economic disparity. Zip codes and tax brackets. None of these things register as even a blip on our fellowship radar. These differences don’t even exist in Christ.

But we have black churches. And white churches. And hispanic churches. And rich churches. And poor churches. And somehow we’ve fooled ourselves into thinking that’s OK. We have begun to believe the lie that church has always been this way and it will always be this way. The cultural differences are too great. The language difficulties are too much. We’ve tried to integrate, we’ve tried to come together, but it’s just never worked. And it never will work.

So, why try?

Because there is honor in the trying. Trying is an act of faith. Our Father wants us to engage that struggle and try. He wants us to try.

Scripture gives us a crystal-clear mandate. It tells us in no uncertain terms that the table of Christ and the house of God is to be enjoyed by all. Together. United as one. Everybody equal. Everybody just as wretched and lost and condemned to death without Jesus and everybody just as holy and saved and righteous because of Jesus. Together. We uphold the ideals we find in Scripture. We lift up those ideals and we try with everything we have to bring heaven to earth, to¬†practice God’s will on earth just as it is in heaven.

And we slip. And we fall. And fail. And do really stupid things. But we never give up. We never give in to the world’s conclusions that division along racial and economic and language lines is necessary. We keep trying. And we trust that Jesus, our King, is watching even as we are “straining at the oars.” He’s interceding for us as he watches. And he’s proud of us. He’s pleased with us as we keep trying.



1 Comment

  1. Rob's Dad

    If the mountain won’t come to Muhammed, them Muhammed must go to the mountain. Maybe we need to leave whitebread land but how? And where do we go? You got chased away – what about the rest of us? I honestly wonder what do I do?

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