No Man is an Island. Neither is the Church.
Devotional thought for the day:
5 Then the LORD said to me, 6“Haven’t I the right to do with you people of Israel what the potter did with the clay? You are in my hands just like clay in the potter’s hands. 7If at any time I say that I am going to uproot, break down, or destroy any nation or kingdom, 8but then that nation turns from its evil, I will not do what I said I would. 9On the other hand, if I say that I am going to plant or build up any nation or kingdom, 10but then that nation disobeys me and does evil, I will not do what I said I would. 11Now then, tell the people of Judah and of Jerusalem that I am making plans against them and getting ready to punish them. Tell them to stop living sinful lives—to change their ways and the things they are doing. Jeremiah 18:5-11 TEV
9 I wrote you in my earlier letter not to associate with those who sin sexually. 10 But I did not mean you should not associate with those of this world who sin sexually, or with the greedy, or robbers, or those who worship idols. To get away from them you would have to leave this world. 11 I am writing to tell you that you must not associate with those who call themselves believers in Christ but who sin sexually, or are greedy, or worship idols, or abuse others with words, or get drunk, or cheat people. Do not even eat with people like that.
12–13 It is not my business to judge those who are not part of the church. God will judge them. But you must judge the people who are part of the church. The Scripture says, “You must get rid of the evil person among you.” 1 Corinthians 5:9-13 NCV
Our goal is not to form islands of peace in the midst of a disintegrated society but to educate people with the ability to transform this society. Therefore, “fruits and results.”
I often hear people misquoting the Book of the Revelation (often mispronounced revelations) advising people to withdraw from society, to come out of Babylon as if somehow they could live a life separate from their neighbors, their family, and friends who do not know that they can depend on God.
Some Christian schools started with that purpose, and there are Christian groups to offer an option to joining secular fraternal organizations like the Boy Scouts, Lions, or Elks. There are now even coffee shops on church campuses, that some people use so they don’t have to go to that evil Starbucks and grab their venti triple cappuccino with fancy whipped cream and pumpkin froth.
It is as if we want to form special communities within communities, just for those who are good and pure and holy. It is as we need to create safe islands for believers so that they are not tempted to sin the rest of the evil world.
Will we recognize the gospel there in the midst of Jeremiah’s prophecy, that God will welcome anyone back? Not just any person, but any people group, any nation. What a blessed hope! What an incredible promise!
Will we recognize the wisdom that inspired Paul to make sure we understood that it was sin among the people of God that concerned him, not the sins of the world? That we aren’t to avoid interaction with normal sinners, but rather to deal with those in the church that struggle with sin first. Those others, yes they need to be saved, far more than they need us judging them.
Will we hear Pope Francis plea, not to segregate ourselves, withdraw to our own safe places? Rather, as the Holy Spirit works within us, to educate people to have the ability to transform society, to share the hope and peace found in Jesus which will do that very thing.
We have to have more trust in God than we fear the world’s sin. We have to have more confidence in His love and care than anxiety about somehow being separated from the love of God ( AN impossibility Dontcha know!)
With our eyes focused on Jesus, we need to go to the same places he did. To those broken by sin, to those blinded by greed, to those who do not understand that God loves them. To those who are broken, just like we’ve been broken. We’ve got to invite them into our homes, our churches, into the place of peace and healing we find as we dwell in GOd.
This is who we are in Christ. people’s who work and message is one of reconciling people to God, and therefore to another. We can’t do that from pristine protected islands where we pretend all is perfect.
So go out there, live and help someone know that God loves them. AMEN!
Pope Francis. A Year with Pope Francis: Daily Reflections from His Writings. Ed. Alberto Rossa. New York; Mahwah, NJ; Toronto, Paulist Press; Novalis, 2013. Print.