Thursday, February 24, 2011

the easy way

Being employed at a church has its definite benefits. Everyone brings you candy on your birthday, I have a VERY flexible schedule, and my "work" consists of things that I love to do.

On the other hand, working at a church has some very strong disadvantages. It can be very difficult because the heart of "church work" is working with people and their lives. And let's just go ahead and get this straight- there's is no overarching manual describing how to be a youth minister. So through prayer and guidance of the Holy Spirit, I am left to navigate this role.

One of the scariest parts of any church work is when you move beyond salvation, beyond the initial acceptance of Christ. Honestly, that's the easy part. The scary part is learning to live it out, figuring out the lines between grace and abuse of that grace, pruning out the areas of life that do not honor Christ.

And what I've found is that people REALLY want Christ. They desire a Savior. They desire forgiveness and grace and peace and all the promises that we're given. They desire the supportive, uplifting community that is the body of Christ.

But they don't want the life. They don't want to take their sin seriously. They don't want to be held accountable by that body of Christ. And that's where I find myself now...

The new mantra of Christianity leans toward that of not judging. Which is GREAT! At first. You can't hold someone accountable to a lifestyle honoring Christ if they don't know what it's all about. And so they can't be judged. But once you've made the commitment to serve God as your master, then you can.

1 Corinthians 5:12-13
"It isn't my responsibility to judge outsiders, but it certainly is your job to judge those inside the church who are sinning in these ways. God will judge those on the outside; but as the Scriptures say, "You must remove the evil person from among you."

And Paul is serious! Over and over again he calls out churches on their sins and urges them to take this whole Christianity thing seriously. Now, please don't misunderstand me and think that once you become a Christian, you have full reign to judge others. The truth is that God loves us enough to create guidelines to a life that honors Him. So if we really LOVED others then we would: pray for them, teach them the ways that honor God, and hold them to those ways- because we know that God's ways are better than our ways. And because judgment is rarely rooted in love, Jesus warns us about it on several occasions.

John 8:7
"They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, "All right, stone her. But let those who have never sinned throw the first stones!"

Matthew 7:1-5
"Stop judging others and you will not be judged. For others will treat you as you treat them. Whatever measure you use in judging others, it will be used to measure how you are judged. And why worry about a speck in your friend's eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying, "Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye" when you can't even see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log from your own eye; then perhaps you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend's eye."

There is a balance. And if we hope to live according to Christ, we're going to have to find it. It includes community- transparent and loving community, accountability, forgiveness and encouragement. Without that, we are just taking the easy way, and the easy way is not of Christ.

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