Recently, someone has become a follower of Jesus who would usually have seen himself as the outcast of the conventional church. I have been enjoying hearing his story and learning from his thoughts and perceptions of life, family, culture and faith. He tells me he is hearing a gospel that seems to him different from the one he rejected long ago and he is starting to understand and be transformed by the reality of the grace of Jesus. Tim Keller suggested on Tuesday that we must preach the gospel to those who are not yet coming and in a way that would encourage them to bring their friends to hear its message. Maybe through my new friend and brother I am slowly learning what he means.
Last Sunday, I preached on Luke 18 and 19 and where usually I would have chosen either the blind man or Zacchaeus, I decided to speak on both. They seemed to have the same things going on in their hearts but externally were completely different social beings. In fact, I think they are the Jericho opposites -but maybe that is Luke's point. In the sermon, I used a quote from the Prodigal God and two people, including this new follower, have quoted it back to me expressing their amazement and how it spoke to them.
I share it here for your perusal.
Jesus' teaching consistently attracted the irreligious while offending the Bible-believing, religious people of his day. However, in the main, our churches today do not have this effect. The kind of outsiders Jesus attracted are not attracted to contemporary churches, even our most avant-garde ones. We tend to draw conservative, buttoned-down, moralistic people. The licentious and liberated or the broken and marginal avoid church. That can only mean one thing. If the preaching of our ministers and the practice of our parishoners do not have the same effect on people that Jesus had, then we must not be declaring the same message that Jesus did (Page 15)
So there's the challenge.