Monday, February 18, 2013

High and Wide

Someone recently asked me this question; "Graham, we know that you are an outreach focussed pastor, and that your goal is to help our church become larger, but is it also your goal that our church would become deeper?"  My response was simple, "I sure hope not."  The last thing I would ever want is for someone to call the church that I was pastoring a "deep" church.  My goal has always been that I would be the pastor of a church that is not, "Deep and Wide" (to quote a nursery song we all learned in Sunday school) but rather;

High and Wide

Let me explain.  When I think about the most high calling for any Christ follower, it is quite simply this, the old testament's central life requirement SHEMA (Hear)- "To love the Lord with all of your heart and all of your soul and all your strength and all of your of our mind."  This is a call by God for us to lift our thoughts toward Him, not to sink them into our own lives.  The calling for all Christ followers is to constantly and perpetually lift our thoughts, prayers, minds higher than this world - not deeper into it.

And Wide.  Jesus expounded upon the highest command of God followers, "and the second is like it, to love your neighbor as yourself."  Jesus was reminding his followers (and even his detractors) that the call of Christ is not simply upward, but it is also outward.  And so, we must grow the kingdom, we must grow the number of Christ's followers, we must be

High AND Wide

So, what about depth.  Well, obviously I am having fun with words here, and nomenclature, but depth is often the opposite of what we should strive for.  I have often found, in the Christian experience is a synonym for insularity, inwardness, selfishness, self-absorption, self-focus.  Jesus was never described by his contemporaries as deep.  Quite to the contrary, Jesus was often criticized for being the opposite, "a shirker of the law, a simpleton, an uneducated rural rabbi, a rabble rouser, (a Galilean - "A Red Neck").  When Jesus was crucified on a cross, the Roman authorities thought it would be funny to put a pejorative name above his cross - "Jesus of Nazareth, King of Jews"  (essentially, "Jesus of the sticks, king of the most marginalized people in history"...ha ha).

The apostle Paul would chide those who called him "intelligent" or super Godly.  Paul seemed to be saying that rather than worldly depth, what was required was Spiritual levity and perspective;
For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. (1 Corninthians 1:18)

All For Now,

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