I forget where, but once I came upon a quotation that said something like
God who created the birds never created birdcages…
man creates birdcages.
How true that statement is. First 15 centuries of Christian history is a testament to this fact.
What began as a pure, loving & divine movement that brought freedom to all who would embrace Christ as their Savior, once man took hold & institutionalized it, it became corrupt & became an obstacle
that pushed people farther away from God’s presence & His truth that ultimately sets us free.
This is what the great Protestant reformer Martin Luther fought against. He fought against the Catholic Church who was abusing her power & keeping people from God’s truth.
There is a reason why when Jesus started His ministry on earth, He didn’t go to the religious & political leaders of His day, which would make most sense because by connecting with the leaders of the Jewish & Roman communities, Jesus could’ve reached the mass more affectively & quickly.
This is what we would do.
We are always in search of efficiency & productivity, even in spiritual matters.
I personally believe that the idea that church should be run like a corporation with the pastor as CEO or consumerism as a way to bring in people to the church by providing what people are looking for have been more hurtful than helpful to the proclamation of the gospel because such approaches or models make everything all about the numbers.
I don’t think we have to try that hard to come up with the next best thing to further God’s kingdom because God shows us how to reach the lost & spread the gospel in the Bible.
Let’s look at how Jesus did it, not what’s working for another ministry or what the current church trend may be. How did Jesus reach humanity?
If you read the 4 gospels in the New Testament, you will see that rather than finding Jesus with the religious leaders, we find Him time and time again with the lowly, uneducated, rejected, oppressed & powerless.
But how can they help His cause?
They have no influence or resource.
In fact, they may drain your resources.
But still this was His approach, no matter how inefficient & impractical.
Here is a perfect example.
In John 5, all the Jews were gathered in Jerusalem to celebrate Passover, and it would be an understatement to say that it was a big deal for the Jews. Many have travelled long distances to reach Jerusalem, just so that they could visit the Temple where God’s presence was, but the irony was the Son of God was not found at the Temple.
The host, the guest of honor was not at the house of God.
According to John 5, He was by a pool called Bethesda where all the disabled & sick gathered. The local legend has it that when an angel comes & dips its wing in the pool, it will be stirred up, and if you are the first one to immerse yourself in the pool, you will be healed of your infirmities.
But Bethesda was a depressing place where the disabled, sick, ostracized & hopeless went, therefore it was a place where an average Jew would stay away.
But the surprising part is that this is where we find the
presence of the Son of God.
Should we be surprised? Jesus made it very clear in numerous occasions. He said,
“It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.
I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners (Mark 2:17).”
“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and
to give his life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45).”
There are many approaches to missions, but the way Jesus exemplified it was by always going to lowly places that others didn’t want to go. He was right there with those in need, rubbing shoulders with them & loving them. He basically met them where they were rather than telling them to come to Him.
If Jesus is the example we are to follow, being missional means that we are to go where the needs are. It cannot be done from on high. It has to be done from the bottom. It’s never about efficiency or about numbers. These places could be far or near. The distance matters not.
This could be a visit to the local homeless shelter or a walk to our neighbor’s door. There are many who are lonely, hurt & lost in our world. We do not have to travel the globe to find them.
The question is, “Are we willing to go where the needs are, where the lonely, rejected are, and meet them where they are?”
The truth is walking down to the pool of Bethesda will mean that we will run into people who are sick, dirty, smelly & bitter at life.
But JESUS “though he was rich, yet for your
HE BECAME POOR, so that
YOU through his poverty MIGHT BECOME RICH (2 Corinthians 8:9),”
and we must be willing to do the same.