To favor one side of Jesus’ ministry is to neglect the other. To embrace an inside Jesus too tightly is to let go of his outside mission. According to George Barna there are over 75 million unchurched people in America and the number is rising. The world is in desperate need of the outside Jesus. But, chances are they won’t hear or see the effects of the gospel from an inside-heavy church.
We need to rediscover what it’s like to be the church on the outside, doing the things that Jesus did. We need to find out what we’re missing from the heart of God for a hurting world. Henry David Thoreau wrote in his classic book, Walden, that he wanted to go deep into the woods and live, to find out if there was something that he was missing from life. He says, “At last, we know not what it is to live in the open air, and our lives are domestic in more senses than we think. From the hearth to the field it is a great distance. It would be well perhaps if we were to spend more of our days and nights without any obstruction between us and the celestial bodies, if the poet did not speak so much from under a roof, or the saint dwell there so long. Birds do not sing in caves, nor do doves cherish their innocents in dovecots.”
Perhaps it’s time for the church to become undomesticated, to go deep into the world and identify with the sinner, the poor and the oppressed, once again, for the mission of Christ. The only way this will happen is if the church steps outside itself and blazes a path for a brave new culture to follow, one that, like Jesus, may not have a place to lay one’s head.
May we all be known, like Jesus, more for what we do outside the church than in this year.