Is Church trying to be sensitive to the wrong seeker?
 
He seeks and saves the lost, he seeks those who worship in Spirit and truth. He, when he is lifted up draws all men.
 
Are we (I include myself here) making church sensitive to the wrong seeker? God is the seeker of men; men are generally not seekers of God unless he draws them. So surely making him central is essential, He is the main attraction.
 
Surely our agendas, no matter how noble, must surrender to the single hearted pursuit of Him, with no other agenda than we want Him for his own sake.
 
By modifying behaviour for others, are we not beginning to perform, moving to please men, saying externals count for the purpose of evangelism. Are we not communicating we are a little embarrassed by our God stuff, and perhaps that He doesn’t know how to reach the deepest needs of men and women.
 
Ultimately fear of man – performing because we are concerned of what men think – lays a snare. And outward performance starts to lack authenticity, and introduces the idea that form is important above substance, and the end justifies the means. These are legalisms the church has battled her whole history.
 
When Paul says he became all things to all men in order to save some, surely he was talking about what he did in order to enter their world e.g. he circumcised Timothy and obeyed ceremonial laws on his return to Jerusalem (Acts 21;26), was aware of Greek poets so he could engage with Philosophers in their place of debate (Acts 17). He certainly didn’t make Christianity and its gatherings more legalistic to accommodate the Jews (Gal 3;1-3), or sexually free and idolatrous to accommodate gentiles!
 
Our goal on earth is to be willing worshippers. To be those who choose Him in the midst of the troubles of life and a fallen world; learning to walk in his presence. In heaven the time for choice is gone, when Jesus returns the time for choice is gone- for believers and unbelievers alike. God is looking for man to willingly welcome him now, God is looking to have a dwelling place with people on earth (e.g. Psalm 132;13-14), before people are taken into his dwelling place. He’s looking for friends, He’s looking to make himself at home on the fallen planet (John 14;23 and Eph 2;20-22).
 
Are the lost the overriding necessity, the goal that shapes all other agendas? What depths and heights can we approach as a corporate gathering if our overriding concern is what visitors think rather than what is God doing?
 
The safest place, the most powerful place, the most satisfying place for believer and unbeliever alike is the presence of God. We need to learn to believe that and bring our friends into those kind of environments, rather than waiting for a toned down ‘guest service’ or hoping for our church to become ‘easier’ – in our view - for unbelievers. The best place for an unbeliever is an encounter with the presence of God.
 
Let’s be sensitive to the seeker of our souls.
 

Andy

 

 

Andy Merrick, 29/12/2011