Can we clean our own backyard?

About two years ago I had the pleasure of attending a Christian Associates event called Thinklings. The topic was something like: “What does it mean to make the claim that Jesus is Lord in the pluralistic landscape of western Europe?” To be honest, this event was a hinge point for me and my view of the question. I left with the belief that to declare Jesus as Lord was not meant to be an ‘evangelistic’ statement, but rather a ‘discipleship’ call.

The early followers of Jesus called Him Lord in light of the Roman emperor’s command that he himself was Lord. In a sense, saying Jesus was Lord, was telling Caesar, “You are not Lord.” Saying that Jesus is Lord is not a phrase that we use to give Jesus another title. The phrase is a movement from ‘the competing Lords of our culture’ to a faith in Jesus as Lord. I believe that it is in this movement from one thing of ‘lordship’ to following Jesus as Lord that we find our meaning, hope, grace, and redemption.

I just got done finished reading excerpts for Chris Wright’s final address at the Third Lausanne Congress on world evangelisation. You can read it here if you want to.** I am both convicted and encouraged by what his points were. He said ‘Christians had lost their integrity and succumbed to the idolatry of power and pride, popularity and success, and wealth and greed.’ His last part on unity is also a crucial point.

Here are some quotes I ‘liked’:

“To be obsessed, or even concerned at all, about status, office, power, in the Christian Church and in Christian work, is in sheer disobedience to Christ and the Bible. And it destroys the very thing that we seek to accomplished. We are called back, in repentance, to humility.”

“The tragedy is that so many Christian leaders, including mission leaders, fail these tests [of power, popularity and wealth] at precisely the point Jesus overcame them.”

“The whole church pays the cost of their failure in the lost integrity and credibility. And so when we even dare to point the finger of criticism at the sin of the world we are told bluntly and rightly ‘clean up your own backyard’.”

I felt like this was the same message that I left the Thinklings event with. What leg do we have to stand on when we tell the world around us they need to follow Jesus when we don’t ourselves? I have a feeling that we’re living in a time where it is communicated that it is more important to be good Christian (go to church, read your Bible, be moral, tithe, etc) than it is to actually follow Jesus (redeem people, reject power, enter into suffering, etc). I think it is time that we as a collective Church start taking more seriously the reality that majority of the Bible was written to God’s own people who were not appropriately following Him. Personally, I would rather have Jesus tell me, “I know you followed me with your whole heart.” than to have say, “I know you worked hard to be a good Christian.”

Ok…off to get started cleaning my own backyard…or terrace seeing as I don’t have a backyard.

***You can also watch the talk online here: Integrity – Confronting Idols | A Conversa Global Lausanne


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  1. dave on October 28, 2010 at 3:23 pm

    Great post! I like your ending. I find myself in the same spot with my faith, especially at the academy. I often wonder if I am working for me with and declaring my faith, or if I am letting him work through me, showing I have faith.

    Your blogs are good early morning reads. Thanks.

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