Exceeding the Law-Keepers

I’ve been reading Dallas Willard’s book, “The Divine Conspiracy”, in which he unpacks the radical life Jesus lays out in the Sermon on the Mount.  Willard quotes Jesus’ words that “unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and scribes you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”  He goes on to suggest that this is not meant to be another law to for us to keep better than the religious experts and lawyers rather it is to point out that God’s life in us makes us the kind of people who love God with all their being and love their neighbor as themselves.    Letting God’s life in us reorder our lives will bring about behavior that surpasses the religious-elites and strict law-abiders.  Get close to Jesus and you will become the kind of person who reflects the Kingdom.

“The Pharisee takes as his aim keeping the law rather than becoming the kind of person whose deeds naturally conform to the law” -Willard

Communion in the Age of the Consumer

I confess I am always on the lookout for a new technique or method for attracting people to our church.  It is, admittedly, a fault of mine; a knee-jerk reaction to my own inadequacies.  In that spirit I found myself listening to a podcast this afternoon about a “church secret shopper” who diagnoses how well your church is or is not doing in greeting, worship, children’s, etc.  A report is then churned out detailing all the things to do in order to make your church as attractive and polished as possible for guests.  As I listened, I, at once, began to consider all of the suggestions the well-intentioned speaker gave.  I suddenly felt overwhelmed and woefully inadequate.  I turned it off in frustration and sat in silence.

It then dawned on me that church is not meant to be a well oiled ministry machine, churning out perfect worship services and gourmet coffee to visitors in the hopes they come back.  The church is not meant to be a mall or a Walmart or a religious Disneyland.   We are meant to be a place of communion, a place of God’s presence, a refuge for the weary and a place of rest for the sojourner.   Let’s do that first.  Let our church be a refuge for the lost and a safe haven for the burnt out.   We may not have gourmet coffee but we have open arms.

So I am going to put away the “50 things to make your church great again” podcast, put down the “if you do these things…” book and give thanks to God for the beautifully unique church I am privileged to pastor.  I am going to thank the LORD for the opportunity to worship, preach and eat together at the communion table with my fellow grace-changed travelers.

Doors open at 10:30 on Sundays.  Come have some generic coffee and donuts and let’s enjoy the presence of God together.

Praying Together

When you come to worship at Harvest, you will quickly notice that we pray for each other.  We want to know how you are doing, where God is blessing you and what struggles are you facing.  In our church, you are known and you will be prayed for.  We conclude our service by praying as Jesus taught.

Eugene Peterson is quoted as saying, “In the long history of Christian spirituality, community prayer is more important, then individual prayer.”

I agree with him wholeheartedly.

What Matters to God Matters to Me

What kind of church do you have?  Seems a reasonable question, many times answered in terms of how many people attend on Sunday.  I think the question is far more profound though.  What kind of church is Harvest?

Simply put, Harvest is a place where those who matter to God can find refuge.

So who matters to God?

Everyone. The down and out, rejects, cast-offs, oppressed, well-to-do, sad, happy, joyful, depressed, lonely, stable and unstable have a place at the table of God.

So what kind of Church do we have?  My prayer that it is one that is filled with everyone.