We eliminate barriers to give people access to Christ
I’m being challenged by God these days. I find it hard to be challenged by God. My onion layers seem hard to peel off…nothing like a real onion. Phrases from scripture keep challenging me to do better at the stuff I have heard all my life. I’ve been reading from the book of Matthew and am challenged to re-align my day-to-day to God’s priorities.
“Love others as well as you love yourself.”
“Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.”
“Here it is again, the Great Reversal: many of the first ending up last, and the last first.”
“Go out into the busiest intersections in town and invite anyone you find to the banquet. The servants went out on the streets and rounded up everyone they laid eyes on, good and bad, regardless.”
“Yes-and if you embrace this Kingdom life and don’t doubt God, you’ll not only do minor feats like I did to the fig tree, but also triumph over huge obstacles. Absolutely everything, ranging from small to large, as you make it a part of your believing prayer, gets included as you lay hold of God.”
“Don’t set people up as experts over your life, letting them tell you what to do. Save that authority for God; let him tell you what to do. No one else should carry the title of ‘Father’; you have only one Father, and he’s in heaven. There is only one Life-Leader for you and them-Christ.”
I feel a call to be more radically servant-like (Mt. 23), to be a risk-taker who gets rid of the ‘play-it-safe’ routines (Mt. 25), and to “stay with it - that’s what God requires.” (Mt.24) Passage after passage is challenging me to be more inclusive with my love for people. And to re-evaluate my priorities.
Throughout every story and parable that Christ shares in Matthew, I see Christ modeling a whole new way of seeing past human accomplishments and measures. Christ seems genuinely baffled by why the disciples are impressed by human achievement. His view of God is so big.
Also, in almost every story and parable, Christ reminds us of the time pressure in reaching people with the gospel, for he will return and people will be sorted by their position in Christ (Mt. 25). Matthew tells us to live vigilant and aware that any day could be the return of Christ. The person who lives like this is a “God-blessed man or women.”
So, my prayers are moment by moment these days, as I try to figure out how to live life better. I find I’m challenged to have less control than I am comfortable with. Authentic community (McLane church value #2) is, after all, unselfish and inclusive. I think giving people, all people, access to Christ is what we are here for. “Access” is the work of my hands, the focus of my life, the reason I get up every day to see if this is the day that Christ returns. It’s the reason I am getting rid of so many things from my house these days. It is time to de-clutter so I don’t have to dust so often, so my world is simplified to do what is more important.
I don’t want to miss God’s great adventure of loving people and giving them access to Christ. I don’t want Matthew 23 to be said of me:
“I’ve had it with you! You’re hopeless, you religion scholars, you Pharisees! Frauds! Your lives are roadblocks to God’s kingdom. You refuse to enter, and won’t let anyone else in either.”
“You’re hopeless, you religion scholars and Pharisees! Frauds! You keep meticulous account books, tithing on every nickel and dime you get, but on the meat of God’s Law, things like fairness and compassion and commitment- the absolute basics!- you carelessly take it or leave it. Careful bookkeeping is commendable, but the basics are required. Do you have any idea how silly you look, writing a life story that’s wrong from start to finish, nitpicking over commas and semicolons?”
Matthew 23: 13-14, 23-24 (The Message)