Monday, February 1, 2016

Another Way

I’m convinced that most of us are controlled, at least in part, by fear. We fear what we can’t control. We fear that others are in control. We fear losing what we have. We fear for our safety. We fear for our children. We fear the brokenness we see in others. 


I know this was true of me a number of years ago when I spent some time talking with an acquaintance named Jim. Jim had a terminal illness and my heart went out to him. I expressed my desire to talk and pray with him and we both ended up pleasantly surprised. Jim had some things going on in his life that I feared. It turns out that he feared what I, a conservative pastor, might say to him. Our conversations ended up with us both wanting to really listen to each other and respect the other’s background and viewpoint. There were no heated words, nor well-formulated arguments trying to win the other one over. Instead, we simply listened…and learned…and genuinely cared for one another.


Back then, during that season of getting to know Jim, we didn’t use words like “broken” to describe people. Our church’s vision statement, “Stone Ridge is a church of broken people for broken people,” has elicited lots of conversation on this subject. Some have more than a mild distaste for the fact that we call attention to this issue, but it resonates with many, once they take time to think deeply on the meaning of it. 


Most of us would quickly say that our world is very broken. Just this morning, I got up to the news that a militant Islamic movement in Africa — Boko Haram — was responsible for the deaths of 86 people in Nigeria. Many of them were children who were burned to death. Closer to home, about ⅔ of Americans say that our nation is heading in the wrong direction. We know that something is broken in the Middle East. We can tell that the world-wide economy appears to be broken. We are all aware of the statistics about broken marriages and broken families. It’s pretty easy to see that the U.S. immigration system is broken. BUT, even though we will acknowledge brokenness in every place and every segment of the world, many of us don’t want to identify ourselves as broken. Our pride rails against such a description. 


Perhaps, then, it’s better that we talk about HOW we are broken. Most of us can easily see facets of brokenness in our own lives. None of us would say that we have reached perfection in character, attitudes, thoughts or the way we maintain relationships. Most of us will admit to at least one bad habit that hasn’t been tamed yet. My bad habit is gossip, so please tell me yours! (That’s a joke.)  


Therefore, SINCE we are broken, we can open our hearts to the God who loves broken, lost people and sent His perfect son to die for us. As He forgives and begins to heal our brokenness, we can find ways to step into the broken lives all around us. The world has no need of proud (even arrogant) Christians who sit around and criticize everyone else. The world needs followers of Jesus who love genuinely and serve endlessly. When is the last time that you stopped to really listen to someone who is desperate for a listening ear or to touch someone who hasn’t been touched with genuine love and respect for a long time?


The religious leaders of Jesus’ day were like rivers at flood stage, drowning everyone who got in their way. Jesus came along and gently offered people a drink of living water. It’s time that we learn to love like Jesus, listen like Jesus and touch like Jesus. “Reach the Broken Relentlessly” is part of life for everyone who participates in the life of Stone Ridge Church. We are taking the words of Jesus, the actions of the early church and the practical realities of 21st Century life, to give you a simple way to become involved. I can’t wait to talk about it this weekend. Can’t make it to a service? Catch the podcast!


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