Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Are We Willing to "Wreck the Roof?"

The following are the opening lines of an article by Mark Buchanan that speaks powerfully to the need for churches and believers to be willing to do what is necessary to bring people to Jesus - like the four friends in Mark 2:1-12. It is a great piece with some practical advice and real-world examples. May it spur your thinking as it has mine.

I've never met a pastor who didn't agree in some measure with Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German theologian during WWII. From his cell in the Flossenburg concentration camp, he wrote, "The church is only the church when it exists for others."

Every pastor I know speaks well, stirringly even, of serving and blessing and winning those outside the church walls. But let's be honest, it's difficult at times to reconcile our speaking with our doing. If action is the fruit of conviction, if "by their fruit you shall know them," then the conclusion is inescapable: many pastors and churches could not care less about their communities.

I call this "Roof-tile Syndrome."

I derive that from Mark 2. Jesus is speaking inside a house, and "some men" bring a paralyzed man to the place, carried by four of them. They're trying to get their friend to Jesus. But a crowd knots the door, creates a barricade of backs. There's no getting past them to reach Jesus. So the men take the building apart. They rip open the roof and lower their friend through the hole. Jesus, seeing their faith (these are some men), forgives the paralyzed man, and then heals him.

And, of course, controversy breaks out among the religious folk.

Roof-tile Syndrome is when we are so caught up in the preaching of Jesus, we turn our backs to the needs of those still outside the building. We become barriers and not gateways. It's when we care more about keeping things intact than about restoring lives that are shattered. It's when we're more upset when stuff gets broken than excited when the broken are mended. It's when church gets reduced to the preaching of Jesus so that we fail to notice that we're seeing very little of the forgiveness and healing of Jesus. It is when we are so fearful about upsetting the religious folk (or homeowners) in our midst that we stop taking risks to get people to Jesus.

It's when my program, my office, my title, my privilege, my influence, my comfort takes precedence over others' needs.

It's when the church exists for itself; to hell with the rest of you.

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