February 3, 2010

Out From Amongst The Tombs

I was reading through Mark's account of Jesus' ministry around the Sea of Galilee (3:7-6:29) for our church's Lenten Devotional and the story of Jesus healing a demon-possessed man in 5:1-20 really struck me in a couple of different ways as I think about the Church in general, and the United Methodist Church specifically.

1. Jesus intentionally went to the place where the unchurched and de-churched (the word "Gentiles" is used here) resided. He was willing to go where few others were willing to go, places that "traditional church-people" might call unclean. We talk about being willing to serve the least and the lost but are we? Are we willing to adapt and change our approaches to ministry in order to engage the unchurched and de-churched?

2. When you spend time around death and decay, their stench begins to stick to you. Here we see a man who was cast out by his society and left to live among the dead. This could really mess with a person's head and I would imagine easily create a sense of worry, fear and despair. Is it possible that the Church has lived among the dead long enough and now it's time to come out from amongst the tombs? I wonder what difference it could make if we stopped looking at all the ways we are dying and focused instead on new ways to convey the message of Life.

3. Having an experience with Jesus changes people. After his experience with Jesus, this man would never be the same. Not only had Jesus brought him from death to life but Jesus gave him life with purpose. Notice how the man went into the "Ten Cities" telling others about his life changing experience with Jesus. I know and agree that the Church must move and adapt with culture but not at the expense of experiencing the One who makes life transformation possible. 'Jesus' seems like a decent marketing plan to me. Eventually it goes viral because as people see their lives changed, they can't help but tell others about their experience with Him.