Church Is Not For Spiritual Giants

Religion_March_2013

If you had a secret and you really needed to talk to someone about it, who would you tell/know last? What is the last thing that people would confess to their pastor?  

“The problem with religion is that it has a huge illusion of superiority.”  Is the Church for religious people who have their spiritual act together or who is it really for? If you had a secret and you really needed to talk to someone about it, who would you tell?

Jesus is without doubt the most celebrated person who has ever lived. And the most famous event in his whole life was the way it ended. He was executed in agony on a cross around AD 30. Ever since, no death has been so talked about, so depicted in art and music, and had so many books written about it. So what is the point in talking about something that has been talked about so much?  I want us to consider this question; is the Church for religious people who have their spiritual act together or who is it really for?

Please read John 19

Take note of a couple of things about where Jesus was crucified because it helps point us to who he was crucified for.

i.        Jesus was not crucified in a cathedral between two candles, but on a cross between two thieves.

ii.        He was crucified at the kind of place where thieves curse and soldiers gamble; where cynics gossip and talk about scandal and filth. He was crucified on the town dumping site.

iii.        He was crucified at a crossroads so cosmopolitan that they had to write his title in Hebrew and in Latin and in Greek. It was normal practice to put a notice on a cross so that those passing by would know what the person had done to deserve such a terrible punishment. The notice was written in Aramaic, Latin and Greek. Each of the three languages in which the notice was written represented the interests of a particular group of people. Aramaic was widely spoken in the synagogues and streets of Judea, Greek was the international language which could be used by many Jews coming in from the Diaspora to celebrate the Passover, and Latin was the official language of the Roman government. The gospel was for all the nations of the known world. it was a melting point for society. What do we learn about the church from the death of Jesus? The church is everyone. It is for all nations.

But we also learn that the church is not for spiritual giants; it’s a place for people with issues!

Somehow the church has not branded itself correctly. The soldiers divided Jesus’ clothes among themselves and gambled at the foot of the cross. Jesus was crucified between two criminals; to imply that he was also a criminal. That is where he died. And that is what he died about. And that is where churchmen should be and what churchmanship should be about.

This is the one place you really should come to be yourself. We have really sanitized the church over the years. We have really cleaned it up. When we see people we wonder: How can you come dressed like that? or straight from the club smelling of alcohol or cigarettes. We communicate to every newcomer: To come you must clean up, stop doing those things and then belong. We have clothes we reserve for Sunday. And in Christian circles we put on our Sunday best. We have intellectual conversations and good conversations to the place where if someone even engages in vulgar language, you distance yourself and become uncomfortable.

In the process we have lost the fact that Jesus died for people with issues. People leave church when they have issues because they are certain their issues cannot find a place.

The church is not for spiritual giants; it’s a place for people with issues!   

Jesus was crucified for every single man and woman and child who has done things wrong: wrong words, wrong thoughts, wrong actions, wrong attitudes, resulting in wrong character. He died for soldiers, criminals; He died for those who are mixed up in sin, for those who have been drawn in by sin. This is not the place for those who want to stand off to the side and pretend to be better than the rest.  The church ought to be a place of acceptance because we are all implicated.

The church is not for spiritual giants; it’s a place for people with issues!

So how come the Church is a place where guys where super masks? Why do we feel the need to put our best foot forward?  The challenge I think is that many of us have compartmentalized life in such a way that we have church friends and real friends. If you knew you would be accepted as you are with all your baggage, what would you do differently?

 

There are places in the world where people accept people with their issues.   

Unfortunately, when we receive forgiveness and become Christians, we tend to forget where we came from and we have not extended the same grace that was extended to them.

Jesus had some choice words for religious people. 13 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.”

Sometimes, the rejection faced by those who make mistakes is so much that they have no choice but to leave and find a community where no one knows them and they can be accepted without judgment.

Why is it that the people in bars treat one another the way Christians should? What have they understood that we have not?

What they have understood is that you can open up because you are all drunk so no one cares. The camaraderie of regulars at the bar comes from the fact that nobody at the bar feels holier than thou because you are all in the same shape so to speak. The bottom line is that Church and specifically is AA or like it. We need a space to come together every week and say imagine this is how long I have made it. One more week of being clean. We go to random groups to be real, but this is the space. Somehow we have misunderstood the Brand Church; So how do we apply this?

The church is not for spiritual giants; it’s a place for people with issues!

  1. In the words of Miguna Miguna, Peel off the mask. Many of us fake it until we make it. Who are the people you are really honest with? Your neighbor may look well put together, but they have issues. Stop acting shocked when we discover things about people. Many of us have been in church for a long time; but you have resisted being part of a small group because you feel convinced that people are not real.  There are people who don’t open up easily and we are not saying that constitutes being fake. My point is: It’s impossible to walk alone. when we are gathered here and there is the right ambiance you feel you can withstand anything, but when you walk out of this place you need to know that there is a group of real people, with real issues behind you who will stand with you through thick or thin. For others of us who are already in a group, this week I want you to rattle some snakes.
  1. For some of us the reason you have held back from making a personal commitment to Christ is that you fear the Christian underground movement; that your struggle will be shared at a prayer meeting somewhere. And so you remain non-commital; you frequent the church with nice clothes, cars, perfumes, but deep down you know that it is not all perfect, it is not alright. But in your effort to protect yourself you have also held back from engaging with God. You have made choices because of a number of things. Perhaps you have chosen to stay away from church, because you have things to lose.

If in any way we have contributed to making you feel like you must come in your spiritual Sunday best, please forgive us. The church is a place for real people with real issues.

The church is not for spiritual giants; it’s a place for people with issues!

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12 Responses to “Church Is Not For Spiritual Giants”

  1. Pastor Linda,twas great hearing from you ,Ihave been MIA for two weeks.I heard you today,but a differnt take on this is that I have seen situations where welcoming everyone leads to some people backsliding due to the influence.Whats your take on this?As much as everyone is welcome isnt there an expectation that they should change thereafter rather than carryon with the same negative behaviours indefinetely.Please respond to this.

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    • Pst Linda Says:

      The best response I can give is maybe how it works with my child. While it is my role to teach him what is right and best, I punctuate it with lots of hugs and kisses and songs and stories. I want him to remember how much I love him, even as I try to guide him into the right path. It also means consistently being present. I think we need to try something similar with the church. We do it all the time with family.

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  2. relieved_fella Says:

    It is now abundantly clear to me that God is at work in Mavuno. I have been ‘masking’ in church for years and I’m glad I finally realized why. Let people ‘hate’ on Mavuno all they want; I know my life has been changed after hearing today’s sermon.

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  3. Husband to a Loving Wonderful Wife Says:

    Wow! This is a great message… and an apology to boot 🙂

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  4. Inspiring message, that one.

    Indeed, the church is a place for real people with real issues… yet, it is what happens after the issues that make me reserved about the church. Maybe I have come clean about my failure, maybe I have confessed that I am not that impressive, maybe I have peeled of the mask and revealed my vulnerability…. what then?

    Many people (scratch that, many Christians) will receive my weakness with empathy and eagerness. But soon, I will begin to appear like baggage to them. You see, confession begs for correction. Repentance calls out for restoration. Being real implies that I want to be reformed… Is the church willing to stick through the process? Are we equipped to handle the sick?

    Many churches often seem too busy with programs and next Sunday to walk me through my failures. They won’t notice me unless I sign up when what I need is a stretcher. The church seems ill equipped to deal with illness. I am a wretched mess that wants to stop being one. But the church seems to be the last place that I would want to seek healing.

    Yes, God wants us to come just as we are. But this is so that he can change us. God wants us to be just like Jesus. He saves people who are messed up in order to clean them up.

    If the church is like an AA, how do we prevent recovered addicts from appearing like giants?
    If the church is like a hospital, how do we prevent those who find healing from appearing like giants?

    Jesus is the answer. He is the counselor behind our recovery. He is the physician behind our good health. He is the baker behind our full tummies.

    The thief beside Jesus is no longer a mess, but a giant. Thanks to Jesus.
    The soldier who gazed at the cross and repented is no longer a mess, but a giant. Thanks to Jesus.

    We don’t just come to church because we are assured that there are no giants. We come because we know that we will be inspired, not intimidated, by those giants.

    I want to reveal my struggle with pornography, not to a room-full of fellow strugglers, but to strugglers who can point me to real victory, not hold a pity party. Giants who are only giants because of the one who lives in them.

    Jesus is the giant behind our giantness. So, it is true that the church is not for giants because it already has one, Jesus. And He is enough. Glory to God.

    May we keep pointing, not just our infirmities, but also our well-being, back to Him.

    Let us also pray for pharisees. We need their gigantic experience.

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  5. True pastor Linda but what of betrayal .We live in a society where we betray each .Nobody wants to open up and find there issues discussed out or they become a sermon illustration so i would rather remain with my issues me and God than to open up .

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  6. Blessed chic Says:

    Great sermon…maybe that we have put on perfect masks is what has made the church less relevant to a generation that has so many issues but not the energy to pretend not to.

    I look at the generation before (my folks) and they were very religious, hardly missed church, looked good etc n i think we (my generation) inherited that as well. But we also saw what happened when they got home after being religious on sunday and many of us did not like what we saw so we don relate with that religion.

    Maybe, if the church can be the AA, the hospital, then there is a chance for my generation. Is it easy, no. Often we want pple to come just as they are but not remain as they came, but that process takes time…and work…n loving anyway while at the same time keeping the message for need for transformation aint easy.

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  7. I have never been soo proud to be a Mavunite – even one that is miles away from Kenya.
    Pastor Linda the story of you accepting the workshop instructor, and well, letting God be God, you just chose to accept her for who she is – amazing!

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  8. Today is Tuesday but Sunday’s message is still ringing in my ear like it was two hours ago……i tried holding/masking my emotions all through the sermon but mid-way i just couldn’t keep up and just wept!!!!! hot tears streamed down my cheeks even after shutting my eyes so tight they hurt…i felt like someone was piercing my heart with a thosuand sharp objects…….

    I wept for myself because i know too well what betrayal from Christian friends can accomplish when i so desperately needed them to walk with me……

    I wept for the church( me being part of it) when it suddenly dawned on me that we are quite the opposite of what Jesus Christ was and is…….

    I wept for the world…….which is hurting everyday and not finding forgiveness, acceptance, restoration and love from the body of Christ……..

    And to echo Pst. Linda……..Who are these people???

    Who are we and what have we done to the cross that bore us our freedom????? The song “IF WE ARE THE BODY” by casting crowns sums all that we should be…….
    But if we are the body
    Why aren’t His arms reaching?
    Why aren’t His hands healing?
    Why aren’t His words teaching?
    And if we are the body
    Why aren’t His feet going?
    Why is His love not showing them there is a way?
    There is a way

    A traveler is far away from home
    He sheds his coat and quietly sinks into the back row
    The weight of their judgemental glances
    Tells him that his chances are better out on the road

    Jesus payed much too high a price
    For us to pick and choose who should come
    And we are the body of Christ
    Jesus is the way

    AKN

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  9. Wow, Pastor Linda that’s incredible! I’ve never fellowshipped at Mavuno (of which I purpose to do soon) but I’m always moved( vely) by the sermons and messages that are birthed in that sanctuary. But also, I feel @Cornell has a point since we are not called in Christ to stay that way till eternity. The only way we can manifest the glory of the Christ in us is through transformation of mind, speech and actions, which add up to character. God’s house is like a potter’s area of work where the dicouraged, messed up, and broken beings are moulded and come out a new creature and so one cant afford to stay with his/her issues in the name of ‘church aint for giants’.
    Thanks alot for this blog!
    Visit >dablewwrites.worpdress.com<

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  10. I think what I understand is that the ‘ gospel is for real people with real issues’ and that is true, Christ did not come for the perfect/righteous.However church/the body of Christ/bride of Christ/spiritual assembly or the called out ones is for those who have been transformed by the love of God and are his children.They may not be perfect yes, but at least they have had an encounter with Christ and are willing to fellowship with like minded believers/the church.

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  11. OddAndSingular!! Says:

    This is me…. I have cried reading this…I wish I could shout this message everywhere. Some people in church made me feel so unworthy,dirty and left out that I stopped fellowshiping and instead read my bible/blogs from home..But this has challenged me and I have purposed to join mizizi class i have been signing up but never attending I will also join a church and be the change I want to see by welcoming people and showing them in Christ there is no condemnation *Romans 8:1…Thank You pastor Linda be blessed

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