That brings us to an important question: What is the culture of the small groups in your ministry? What are the underlying beliefs, assumptions, and widely held suppositions that truly give shape to those groups? This is an important question to answer because unlike rebar, culture is going to be created with or without our help in forming it. Every one of the groups in your church is going to have a culture, and that culture will either be one of gospel-centered welcoming, hospitality, service, and mission, or it won’t. But if it’s not, it will inevitably be something else.
There will be many think pieces on this.
On the one hand, certain groups are obsessed with him. He’s this mystical force always revealing himself through warm, fuzzy feelings and strange coincidences. Other groups, however, maybe in reaction to the first group, ignore him altogether. They believe in him, but kind of like I “believe” in the pituitary gland—I know it’s there and it serves a purpose, but I have no idea what exactly that purpose is. (I even looked it up just now, and I’m still not sure.)
Two landscape architects woke up today and essentially performed the same job, executed the same tasks, and worked roughly the same hours. Let’s call these two landscape architects Joseph and Christopher. Joe works for a landscape company and spent his day at the homes of clients of the company, planting annuals and mulching beds in their yard. Chris works for a large energy corporation on their in-house facility team. He also planted annuals and mulched at the corporate offices. Which landscaper is most likely to find his job rewarding? Who is more likely to enjoy his job: Joe or Chris?
Like Peter around that charcoal fire, we often struggle with the implications of building Jesus’ kingdom rather than our version of it. We fear losing our rights and privileges. We wonder how much will be asked of us. We resist releasing entrenched personal convictions. We feel pulled away from our national identity. We aren’t sure that loving people like God loves people will serve us well in the end. And perhaps most of all, we abhor the thought of losing our cherished idol of safety.
You may wonder, given all your past and remaining sin, Who am I that the highest King would welcome me? You recite your unworthiness to yourself, you sit in the pigsty of an old sin, and not only wonder how you got there, but how your King can receive you. The answer is not found in your inherent worthwhileness, nor in God’s neediness for you. You are celebrated, crowned, kissed, and loved because your true elder brother, the one who does not moan when you are welcomed home, went into the city after you and paid off your debts with his own life. He suffered for our sin, and purchased our acceptance.
A favorite from the archives:
See, one of the cool things about our God is that he is always using ordinary people to fulfill his plans. People like you and me. People like Ruth, Naomi and Boaz. And a thousand years before Ruth lived, God promised Abraham that He was going to bless Abraham’s family.
Ruth became a part of that family.