For many years now I have been passionate about understanding, advocating, and facilitating what I call "authentic church-being." Quite simply, what if Jesus' idea really took hold and we were church, and we accessed the grace necessary to make us the people of His envisioning?
What if as church we were all about them–the others not yet aware or accessing the grace that will literally make their lives. Jesus was all about them!
What if as church we were all about blessing–as chosen people, like Israel of old and now the church if God gets God's way with us, blessing fairly summarizes life and mission. They receive blessing–indeed, what blessing! And the very receiving of it draws them into sharing that blessing with others, and doing so until all the families of the world have opportunity to know, receive and live blessing. (I know, talk of blessing is really slippery, and we are soooooooo good at satisfying ourselves by mouthing slippery platitudes. I know. But please get into the word and unpack that word "blessing." What did it mean for God to bless people? What happened–both to them, to their network of folks, to their entire world? I think yo'll see some pretty nitty gritty stuff that could spell deep transformation–if indeed we were all about such blessing).
What if as church we were about kingdom–as Jesus was. That was his message: Kingdom come! That was his call–turn around and deal with it. As much as he was in the world, he was clearly not of it, not gripped by it, excpet by love for it, not enthralled with it and its systems, not decieved by its lies, not trapped by its sickness and dysfunctions, not about to settle for its limited and empty promises. He called people out of darkness into stupendous light. He insisted we were made for more and better, and pointed the way. Convincingly he pointed the way, so convincing that people followed. What if instead or championing a cause entirely bound by here-and-now stuff we became obsessed with the realm Jesus brought our world? What if there were a truly better way to be human–the Jesus way, and the conditions necessary for even us to live that way were now right in front of us? What if we embraced those conditions so desparately and tenaciously that we got thoroughly conditioned ourselves, and it was noticeable to them? (on "them" see above)
What if as church we were all about connection–that is, if we became the communal connecting point between God and people? What if the world became for us the arena where God was not only present, but also not passive, but powerfully at work, and we developed the eyes to see this? What if we understood that we are not to send missionaries, because we are ourselves the ones who have already been sent? What if we as church understood we are God's missionary right here and right now?
What if we were a holy ethnicity or tribe–as God insists we are? What if we were unlike any and all other ethnicities in the world? If in fact, all the things, experiences, opportunities, blessings, resources, etc. etc. that any tribe or ethnic group wants in the worst way, so badly they are willing to kill for them–what if we wanted such things for them (there's that word again!), and we wanted such things for them so deeply that we were willing to die to see it happen, if necessary? Kind of like Jesus did!
What if? Makes you think, doesn't it? Or dream or pray or expect! In several weeks in the center of the US we gather to imagine together what could be if God got God's way with God's people. Who can tell what the Lord of the church might do!