I have been thinking about a few things recently over the holiday and so this may seem a bit jumbled. But I have been thinking about how our culture is very driven and full of vision and success and how the church sometimes reflects that. I go to a fair amount of christian conferences and listen to teaching and have been a part of various churches and vision is good. I work with students I want them to capture the vision which is to give every student on campus an oppertunity to hear about Jesus. I like this vision, to me its simple (although can be difficult and hugely challenging) but I like this because it comes about in different forms – evangelistic talks, seeker bible studies, meals, coffee chats, random questions at tea and toast. Its great fun and the vision is for every student on campus to meet Jesus and I want people to meet Jesus.
But when it comes to church it seems to become really tricky, I hear lots of other visions and some visions I don’t really understand and most of them are about becoming a better, successful, bigger church. Where we strive for perfect and better Sunday mornings and we paint this grand image of ourselves for the city to see and soon the church is a big machine, running along with its programmes and visions and targets. And there is a place for that and CU and church are different – I know that! But what I have been really thinking about is where do the weak, the poor, the sick and the suffering, the widows and the ones clinging to a thread – where do they fit in? You would say to me that they should be taken under the wing of the church and carried along – yet often I don’t see that. I have seen those on the fringes being hurt by inner circles and those who are sick and suffering who just can’t keep up the pace of church/christian life that’s being painted which leads them to be left behind.
I have been really thinking about these people and they aren’t abstract – they have names and some of them are my friends. Those who feel very much left behind and not able to keep up with the big machine and its vision casting. And it is so easy to get caught up with it too and just think of the end result and think of those that are weak and ill as people who are holding us back – dead weight. I wonder what Jesus would think of that?
I love how Jesus says this: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Matt 11:28
Jesus calls the sick, heavy laden, the weak and helpless. He is calling sinners to himself and promises rest. I love how through the OT and NT the heart of the Lord is always for the weak, helpless, widow, sick and poor just like here:
“And when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field right up to its edge, nor shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest. You shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner: I am the Lord your God.” Lev 23v22
He never forsakes them, when they come hungry to him he gives them food. He doesn’t say that they should be stronger or they should keep up. He calls them to come to him and he will give them rest. I guess I love this because he never forsakes me.
Yet our culture is so opposite to this, where the sick and poor are problems that should be got rid of and sometimes as christians we can get caught up in this idea and its displayed for the world to see. Its challenged me, how am I going to help those who are sick and poor in my church, my christian friends and along my street? It may mean stepping down from the christian rat race and step away from the inner circle and not be caught up in what ever vision is happening this week. It may mean stopping and slowing down and listening and offering Jesus so that they may have rest. It may mean actually caring for people instead of worrying about targets and numbers. Those are just some of my thoughts and I would love to hear what you think.