Getting back to that “Living Outside the Sanctuary” discussion again, I am fixated on the mission of the Church and how it takes its mission beyond the safety of its four-walled borders out into the world. For starters, there has to be acknowledgement that there is a world beyond the walls! And we all live in it. Some do a better job than others at “living” in that world outside the sanctuary, but nonetheless, we are a part of our community.
Conversely, the community exists around the outside walls of the sanctuary. People pass by the building every day that is all abuzz on a Sunday. And, unless they are members of that congregation, they have no idea what goes on inside that building. They don’t know that the words spoken inside that building on a Sunday are working to transform lives, communicate love and provide the necessary pep talk to keep some of us from jumping off the cliff. It’s a great message for anyone willing and wanting to hear it.
And it does no good if the only people who hear it then keep it to themselves. God’s message of love and redemption is meant to be shared. We don’t have to pound people with it, or threaten them with it. That’s the antithesis of the message. The Bible is a book, not a bomb.
We must live God’s message by doing the basic commands that Jesus gave to his followers…the simplest one being “love”: love God, love your neighbors as yourselves. And yes, self-love is critical, too. We must be willing to accept that we are loveable, and worthy of the love that God bestows on us. The point of Christ’s death on the cross was to take our humanity through death and into resurrection, so that we may be free and given a chance at eternal life. We must also know the love our neighbors show us when they treat us with respect and dignity is part of that “love” of God. If we can manage these things, then I think we’ll be ready to bring a living example of God’s love into the community that is outside the sanctuary.
Sounds easy? It’s not. Worse, that’s only half the job. And it’s the second half that seems to be troublesome for some churches. Because the church also has to recognize the community on the outside of the sanctuary, and it has to be willing to be seen.
To my mind, that happens by allowing “the outside world” to glimpse in. It’s all well and good for a church and the community within the church to socialize, and stick together. But I look to the entry that precedes this one in my blog as a shining example of what I believe churches need to do. Take your posse, paint some signs, and march in a pride parade! Let people know, particularly the ones who have suffered abuse at the hands of Christians, that we’re not all like that. When an event comes to town that speaks to Christians (or any faith community) but will be hosted in a secular setting…go!!! God is not exclusive about where He’s gonna show up! Or how He’s going to reach out. Or even in what context or ways He will show the way to a life that is not clouded with constant concerns and fears and false ideas that “we’re a bunch of losers.”
So, as an homage to Gay Pride, it’s time for everyone to open up their closets and come out into the light. And that means those of us who believe that eternal life happens right now. Live it, people! And be the light we all wish to see in the world!