by Calven Celliers
As I sat basking in the morning sunshine, trying to thaw, and enjoying the time I was spending with
God, I found myself asking Him, “Now what? What’s the next step for me? Break my heart for what breaks Yours.” And then these words came to me –
People willing to make our mess their mess
are people with whom we naturally want to be involved.
What was God saying to me? I opened up my Bible and started reading the apostle Paul’s letter to the Church at Rome. Paul’s letter to the Christians in Roman is filled with theology. In the early part of the book Paul spends time expanding on who God is and what He’s done for us. Then he wrestles with the impact that should have upon us as God’s people living out our lives in this fallen world. He gives many commands as he explores how God’s love should affect the way we live and relate to those around us: be joyful, patient, faithful, generous, hospitable. Bless. Mourn. Rejoice.
One thing that is very apparent is that our God is a relational God, and He wants us to experience the blessing of being connected. For me personally, this has been the greatest struggle in the whole Covid pandemic. Even though I clearly understand the absolute necessity of all these restrictions, protocols and necessary periods of isolation in order to overcome the spread of the virus, it has also highlighted for me the importance of fellowship, interaction, and gathering together. I miss you, my Church family and dear friends. We were not meant to be self-sufficient, isolated, and independent of one another. Life is meant to be shared. God intends for us to experience life together.
You are called to belong, not just believe … the Bible knows nothing of solitary saints or spiritual hermits isolated from other believers and deprived of fellowship.
(Rick Warren – The Purpose Driven Life)
The danger, of course, is the tendency for churches to become holy huddles that are so inward focused, that we neglect the very reason God doesn’t just save us and then immediately take us up to heaven to fellowship with each other and praise His holy name for ever and ever. And I suspect this is what God was trying to tell me. When this horrible season in world history is over and we can resume some normality of life, the Church must be different. As followers of Christ, we must remember that our relationship with God must affect not only our relationship with each other, but the world in which we live out our faith as well. There are so many hurting, broken, battered and bruised people out there, and God wants us to be open to them too. We must reach out to them in love; into the mess of peoples lives and show them the love of Jesus. No mess is too messy for Jesus.
In Romans 12 the apostle Paul calls us as God’s ambassadors in this fallen world to “15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another … 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone… 20 On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”” (Romans 12: 15, 16, 18 – 20NIV)
Jesus reaches down into the pain, filth and stench of our shattered, broken lives, meets us where we are, as we are, dusts us off, offers us newness of life and loves us unconditionally. He never says ‘Clean up your act and then I’ll love you, accept you, save you or help you.’
In the Gospel of John Jesus says, “34 A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13: 34 & 35NIV)
As I have loved you, so you must love one another! This is a love marked by selflessness and putting others above oneself, a love that even transcended cultural normalizations and expectations, a love that includes acceptance, forgiveness, and compassion. The early church was often noted for the way they loved others and their love was a witness to the validity of the Gospel message that drew people to give their lives to Jesus. These early Christians shared a life-transforming Gospel message and they shared a life-transforming kind of love. Today, we as believers can allow the Spirit to work through us and demonstrate that same life-giving and selfless love that will draw others to Jesus and serve as a powerful testimony to Jesus’ power and goodness.
The Christian life is not so much about rules as it is about relationships. It’s about a relationship with Jesus and with each other. If you don’t have a relationship with someone, they won’t care if you quote the rule book to them. If you have a relationship with someone, you probably won’t need to quote the rules. People willing to make our mess their mess are people with whom we naturally want to be involved.