Words of Hope: Inside Out Faith
I keep thinking about many Christian churches and schools I have witnessed in my life. Here is one thing I deeply admired about my dad. He believed that Christianity should change us. We should be more loving, more compassionate, more brave, more generous, understanding, etc., having loved and served Jesus. Church attendance, tithing, bible reading and memorizing, evangelism, strict adherence to rules and regulations—all these do not make us more like Jesus. In fact, some of the meanest, cruelest people in the world did these things. These things are important, but they do not have the power to transform.
Transformation does not come from our religious habits but from the power and work of God in us. God transforms us from the inside out, not us transforming ourselves with religious habits from the outside in.
What are we doing in our churches? The majority of services are going to run 1-2 hours in length. They typically have 3-8 worship songs and a 30-minute to one-hour sermon with a few other items, such as greet your neighbor, tithe, and communion. Do these sermons change us? Do those speaking from the pulpit live with beautiful and whole relationships? Do they love the outcast and the unlovely? Do they serve, listen, and confess wrong? Do their lives overflow with joy and hope?
Lecture is the least effective means to teach, yet it is our number one tool in most churches for teaching and training. Why is that? I look at the life of Jesus and His interaction with people, eating, healing, serving, and loving. Dad understood this. I love that Dad committed to life from the inside out, a life measured by the outcome of a life full of joy, peace, and hope, not obligation.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. – 2 Cor. 5:17-20