Saturday, December 8, 2012

Maybe We Shouldn't Invite Them

Sidney Herald religion column published October 28, 2012

“Maybe we shouldn’t invite them to our church.”

Two friends said that to each other. They were heading the showing of a Billy Graham film at the local theatre. They thought about people who might talk to them afterwards. They wanted to refer each one back to churches of their own upbringing or family connections. For those not raised in any church and with no family connection, they talked about inviting people to their own church.

But then, they wondered if they should.

Every congregation has its problems. Theirs was no exception. They talked of how they and their congregation often were disobedient and self-willed. “What if, by hanging out with us, something of us rubs off on them,” one of them asked. “Are we doing them any favors by leading them into being self-willed like us?”

Take it to the next level. Does Christianity have a similar, bigger problem? Is Christ self-willed?

Since Jesus is God, doesn’t He do whatever He wants? Doesn’t God have the prerogative to follow his own will? When we invite people to follow Christ, are we inviting them to imitate a self-willed person? If Christ is self-willed, why shouldn’t everyone be? If everyone were self-willed, the conflicts would beat society to pieces. Community and fellowship would become hopeless.

Once again, the answer is the Trinity. Though God is one, yet God is three persons. The Three enjoy community and fellowship that are beautiful and blessed. They maintain their blessedness in many ways. One of the ways is that the Son is not self-willed. Jesus is God as much as the Father is. Yet, in Trinity, He obeys his Father, and that is what saves us from our self-willed disobedience.

Jesus said, “I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” John 6:38-40

Obedience is not something God only commands. It is something God himself does. God the Son obeys God the Father. Because the words Father and Son are not just two titles for one person, but refer to different persons, the obedience of the Son to the Father is real.

While the obedience of the Church is not so shiny, still, the Church is where we hear about the perfection of Christ’s obedience to the Father. No one else teaches the Trinity, and therefore no one else shows the hope for salvation, community, and fellowship. The Father wants us to hear the word about the Son, believe in him, and be raised on the last day. So Christians invite everyone to the imperfect Church, and the perfect Christ.


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