We Don't Like Jesus, Part 7 - Mission

Matthew 9:9-13, 35-38

Rev. Christopher Harbin

29 November 2015

Continuing our series of issues we have with Jesus, we turn to the concept of mission. Though our purpose in following Jesus is well-defined, all too often we neglect what Jesus said and redirect our attention to lesser issues. This could not be more to the point than when it comes to the local church and our priorities. There are many things we do correctly, but at the same time, we sadly miss the point in regard to the larger picture of the mission Jesus left us to accomplish and its direction.

We get mission mixed up with traditions, routines, and culture. It happens in relation to our vehicles, our homes, our careers, and our churches. The purpose of a car is to get us from one location to another. Along the way, however, we have added other purposes to both our usage and our expectations regarding our vehicles. We use them for comfort, as entertainment centers, and as status symbols. We use them as a way to promote our self-worth. Our homes have often become so much more than a refuge from the elements and places to sleep. They become indicators of status, wealth, and warehouses to accumulate goods. Our careers speak to issues of self-worth, status, and even societal position. What about our churches and church life?

I remember back during my college days hearing a pastor speak about the church as having transformed into a social club that rejected its original purpose of rescuing and redeeming a society. At the time, he was addressing issues of racial exclusion. I had invited an African classmate to church, only to discover that the deacons were going to usher him down the street to ''a church where he would be more comfortable.'' This White church in the midst of a changing neighborhood was not interested in reaching out to the society around them. They could not see that the gospel bade them love their neighbors. They allowed instead the norms of their Southern culture to dictate who was worthy of their attention and acceptance. They allowed those prejudices to trump the stated purpose of the church.

We can look back thirty years to the lingering racial tension in Southern Mississippi and understand the difficulty that church was experiencing, after a fashion. We can grant them some leeway for the adults involved never having personally faced desegregation. We can make allowances for the difficulty they had in accepting that federal mandates to treat all people with equality and equal worth before the state also applied to equality before God. We can understand that there had been a failure of leadership over generations to stand against the inequality taught by the larger culture. And yet, there is really no excuse for refusing to see how Jesus and the early church worked through those same issues in relation to the Gentiles....

...for the full text of this sermon, see We Don't Like Jesus, Part 7 - Mission, at SermonSearch.com

—©2015 Chri­stopher B. Harbin

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