By Bishop Farr
Last fall I heard Australian evangelist Christine Caine speak at the New Room Conference in Nashville, Tennessee. Caine is a popular international speaker.
She and her husband, Nick, founded a global anti-human trafficking organization, The A21 Campaign, and the Propel Women organization. She said some impactful things that I want to share.
1. The first statement that got my attention was, “The Church lives in the womb of the world.”
I had to think on that! It is based on John 17:15 and 16. “I’m not asking that you take them out of this world but that you keep them safe from the evil one. They don’t belong to this world, just as I don’t belong to this world.”
It is one of the sayings of Jesus about being in the world, but not of the world. Christine wondered if we had done the opposite: gotten out of the world as we huddled in our churches while at the same time making our churches more of the world. We invited people to join our churches as we escaped the world; yet we absorb many of the western world practices inside the church, which makes it hard to distinguish Christians from non-Christians while living in the world.
It reminded me of Luke’s passage in Chapter 14 about salt. “If salt loses its saltiness, what good is it?”
2. Christine observed that the Western Church seems to have PDS, Passion Deficit Syndrome.
Where is the passion? Discipleship is a passionate love affair with Jesus, not a religious obligation. This reminds me of Matthew 13:44 (The Message), “God’s kingdom is like a treasure hidden in a field for years and then accidentally found by a trespasser. The finder is ecstatic — what a find! — and proceeds to sell everything he owns to raise money and buy that field.” Where is our passion?
3. Christine said: “The character of a pastor shapes and forms the nature of the local church.” Then she reminded the clergy that we are “co-laborers with Christ, not co-stars with Christ.” That we needed to stop doing church and start being the Church.
Wow! I would ask us all to think about these three points and ask, “Where are we?”
Her speech reminded me of John Wesley’s number one worry about the future of Methodism: of becoming a dead sect, as if we had the outer form of religion; but no inner substance of faith. We may have the form of faith, the look of faith, but not the function of faith in our daily living.
We live in a lost world that is full of carelessness, distraction, fear, hate, racism, sexism, intentional and unintentional decisions, and much, much more.
We, the disciples of Jesus Christ are not to hide from the mess of the world, but we are not to be of the world. We have generations of people who are in need of a GPS (God Positioning System) reroute toward purpose, meaning and grace that God alone through Jesus can provide. The Church needs a GPS reroute to be more substance than form, more passion than obligation, more being than doing.
It starts with each of us. Are we in the world and of the world? Are we out of the world but of the world? Or, are we in the world but not of the world? Matthew 5:13 says, “You are salt and light for all the world.” Salt and light! Are we? Or, do we need a God positioning reroute?