Well based on parts one and two of this series, there are a great number of ramifications for living as a Christian and as a part of the church. Erik’s thoughts about our loving the poor after part two were particularly convicting, and I thank him for sharing. While the list could probably go on forever, I wanted to share three areas that I think a deeper understanding of God’s holiness and love will force us to change.
1. We will be families dedicated to God.
Our culture especially calls for families to be dedicated to certain things above others. We’re to be dedicated to education, to being active and involved in all sorts of sports and organizations, to having a stable job that we take 2 weeks off from to “relax” and get away from it all, and most importantly to be dedicated to keeping issues of God, politics, money, health, and more safely within the walls of our own home. Disrupting the status quo might be the greatest sin our society recognizes as a whole. “You keep you and yours in there and we’ll keep us and ours over here, and so long as they never intertwine we will be able to nod politely when we’re shoveling the driveway this winter.”
The radical love that we are called to as Christians demands that we are dedicated first and foremost to the purposes and will of God – even to the point of rejecting the social norms that seem so unbreakable. It forces us to cross over, to mush things up. Perhaps that “stable” 9-5 job with the vacation keeps us from living out God’s love in our world in ways we can’t quite see ourselves. Or perhaps making sure our kids know how to rest in the presence of God and be whole persons spiritually, emotionally and physically means they’re less involved in the bazillion things they could be out doing. Who knows? But I know our family seems to be making decisions that are more often based on the culture of today rather than on the radical love we’ve been shown by a holy God.
We will be a church that’s more than a different looking social organization.
When we understand God’s love in light of his holiness, we understand our existence as a church in an entirely different light. We are a holy people, set apart to look like God and to be defined by our new relationships as brothers and sisters in Jesus. This goes far beyond even the most willing volunteer in the church. I know many people who are willing to give and give and give to their congregation through their time and their talents and their money to see the ministries of the church succeed and grow. Our trip to IYC wouldn’t have been possible but for these people.
And yet I’d give every cent back if we could be radically holy for God and see our existence as his church for what it is: a radical new glimpse of his kingdom. How is this different? What would a church that was more than a social organization look like? It would look like Acts 2. What’s mine is yours, brother, what you need I’ll supply, sister. If that’s money, here it is. Need a job? Gotcha covered. Need somebody to raise your kids —my home is your home. Everything and anything—most importantly though, my time is your time. Let me sit down with you, even if you’re a teenager, a child, a senior and let get to know you. Then, as I begin to see these people as my brothers and sisters I begin to see just how I can love them in unique and life changing ways.
3. We will be a movement world wide that refuses to be defined by the falsehood of this world.
Stretching out even further, Christians would be defined by the holiness of God and love he has for us and would refuse to be defined by the falsehood of this world. We wouldn’t buy into the proposed power structures or the solutions that set one group above another. We wouldn’t be tied to any political party or structure apart from God’s kingdom and would demand that justice and faithfulness to our relationships and commitments reign in all the corners of the world.
It’s radical. It’s crazy. It would likely cost many people their lives.
But then again that shouldn’t shock us. Wouldn’t a church look more like the church in the Bible if this were the case? Wouldn’t it sound a lot more like the things Jesus warned us about. They will persecute you. They will hate you. You will have to pick up your cross, your sign of sacrifice and rebellion against this world, and follow me. For this great triumph we have been called and set apart, made holy by the love of a holy God. It’s what we saw at IYC, and it’s what has set the hearts of the teens at New Life toward the face of God and his call in their lives. It’s the WHOLE gospel of the kingdom of God. It’s radical. It’s dangerous. And it’s our only chance for life.