“And then, oddly enough, the symptom of true love in a man is timidity, in a young woman, boldness. This is surprising, and yet nothing is more natural. It is the to sexes tending to unite, and each acquiring the qualities of the other.”—Victor Hugo (via josephtsang)
“I know God is real because when I accepted Christ a war broke out in me: a war between a black dog and a white dog.”
“Really so they fight? Well which dog wins?”
“Whichever one I feed the most.”—Jack Hibbs
We want to engage the heroic. What do we truly live for? What takes up our time? (I’m the chief waster of that precious resource). We want to quest, save kingdoms, raid enemy lairs and be an integral part of a team. We want to manage winning fantasy baseball teams like it actually means something. We root for the underdog, watch movies where you save the universe from imminent destruction and still have the time to wish each other a “long and prosperous” life. We want the most beautiful girl, the most dreamy guy. We want to be the smartest and the richest. We look for the perfect business model and try to jump on the next big idea. Life is a series of compounded distractions. If you engage something, you’re expecting to excel. Why is that? Why are we hardwired to want glory, to engage in battle, to fight the good fight? Because we are living in the midst of the ultimate battle and we don’t even realize it.
I’m the type of person that just wants to get by. I want to keep my friends around with the most minimal reciprocal effort. I want to do as little work as possible and still look like I’m beneficial to the company. I want to skip the maximum allotted classes I can skip without affecting my grade. This wallowing-in-laziness attitude spills into the spiritual realm also. I put on only enough of the “armor” of God to prevent a fatal blow. I keep my sword just sharp enough to loose the bonds of the enemy and flee. It’s easy to settle for a comfortable life. It’s human nature. We weren’t meant to work hard. Adam’s curse is the cause for that. BUT THAT DOESN’T MEAN WE CAN’T. We say that the armor of God is not for retreating because there’s no shoulder and back protection - that if we run, we’ll get stabbed in the back. Because of that, we’re only to press on. A lot of the time, our idea of pressing on is simply “maintaining” the fortifications we’ve already built. We’re satisfied with beating back the enemy and keeping, refurbishing and revamping what we’ve already been given. The more we do it, the easier that gets and the more comfortable we become.
So how can we keep advancing? How do we go beyond mere maintenance, because thats exactly what it is. You can ask homegroup leaders who have passed over, or even Pastor Randy with this congregation. It’s like a well-oiled machine - something we’ve become very good at and have no problem effectively repeating on a regular basis.
We’re placed in this community for a reason. There’s a reason that we all gather here on Sunday. We from Diamond Bar, Walnut, San Dimas, Covina, Rowland Heights, Los Angeles, Irvine, Riverside, Temple City, Arcadia, Cerritos, Hacienda Heights. We’re all here for a reason. There’s a church being built here, and we’re all active members in it, most of us active leaders in it. As the class of 2009 graduates, we’re going to get an influx of influence into the working world and community. There has to be a shift (we at hometeam are still experiencing the growing pains of this shift) from campus to community.
How does the greater community see us? Are we just that funny waffle-house looking church between Jack In The Box & KFC with the obnoxious yellow and red sign and the Pro-Prop 8 stance we like to rub in people’s faces? Are we the church that invades the malls and parks, preaching the gospel to mostly hard-hearts and mostly-deaf ears? I’ve heard from members from other churches that we’re the church with the crazy strict worship practices, that we punish people for being late. Or that church that used to do that magazine, what was the name of it again? I know we’re not here to please “people” but God, but we are here to welcome, love and challenge them - maybe even challenge them on their very ideas of the aloof church.
We have to ask ourselves, “what are the needs of this community and are they being met?” Not just the “Asian-American” community or anything so limiting as that, but the community as a whole. Is there a culture of poverty in the area and are we doing anything to help it? Is there a homosexual community in the area and are we showing them Christ-like love? Is there a culture of depression in the area, and what are we doing to make people more joyful? Is there a single-parent community in the area and are we able to encourage and bless them? We have to tactically and whole-heartedly express our love for the community, not as an aloof church that sort of drive-bys them with our events and doctrine, but as an embedded entity within the community, to change our culture to be more Christ-like and less Pharisee-like. And from relationship will flow growth, mission, purpose and an opportunity to share the gospel.
How? We have to work on it. I’m not sure how. I’ve read about churches that redecorated bus stops for the surrounding ghetto in Atlanta. I’ve read about churches that started serving free breakfast at the lowest point of the “Great Recession of 2009”. I’ve read about churches that gather up all of the loose gift cards that we have in our wallets that go to waste and use it to bless a community. I’ve read about churches that gather change and pay for the use of laundromats for homeless twice a month. I don’t know what we can do. We’re smart. We can think of something.