Tuesday, January 8, 2008

"Counter-cultural" Living and Serving

There’s something pretty radical about a Restoration Church – this new church being planted in the South Hills! It is “counter-cultural”!

When I think “counter-cultural,” I think 1970’s and hippies and Beatles and bell-bottom polyester suits with loud flowered shirts and all the rest. When I think “counter-cultural,” I think “rebellion” against tradition and the status quo. AND all those thoughts flow through my mind on a decidedly negative path.

But think about it – as I am doing. As we swim down the mainstream of life, what is the predominant message? Isn’t it to swim as fast (and even furiously) as we can, to keep moving faster and faster, to never be seen as resting in the shallows and to sweep anyone who gets in our way out of the way?

Hasn’t that same mind-set crept into the church? Bigger is better. Success is measured by numbers and noses. Glitz, glamour and entertainment have taken the place of worship and connection with people and their needs.

Then I look at the Gospels and the life of Jesus. I see a Man on a mission, but I don’t see Him in a hurry. I don’t see him concerned with counting either numbers or noses. True, He found Himself in large crowds for a time. But, in the end, He was alone – forsaken by both man and God. His body was buried in a borrowed tomb.

Jesus even stopped in the middle of an urgent mission to follow a prominent leader (Jarius) whose daughter was sick and dying. Jesus stopped because a woman touched the hem of His robe as He pushed through the crowd. He had time for her: an untouchable, an outcast, a reject by society (and the Law). She had been bleeding for many long years. Women were pronounced (by the Law) unclean and untouchable when they were bleeding – whether for a few days each month or for years.

At a Restoration Church, we want to serve the needs of others. We particularly want to focus on people with special needs of brokenness. That includes all those Jesus talks about in Luke 14:12 – 14: “… when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind … “ And, in truth, it includes us all because we are all broken in various ways. We all desperatly need all our brokenness restored by our King and Creator, Jesus!

To serve the needs of others by being a Restoration Church, God will need to start a work of restoration in each of our hearts. And then we need to work hard to get to know each other and love each other well just as Jesus loves us. We need to intentionally put our own agendas aside to put the needs of others first – much like Jesus did on His way to Jarius’ house when He stopped for the woman who touched Him.

This is “counter-cultural” living and serving! This is what God is calling restored hearts to be and do!

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