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Monday, May 25, 2015

WHAT IS THE CHURCH IF NOT AN OUTHOUSE?


There have been many models, ideas and ideals of what a church is.

To some, the church is a playhouse.  It is a place to go to be entertained, it is where there is a touching show.  The Pastor and his staff are the cast and crew, complete with a band in the pit (or often front and center).  We hear and see sights and sounds that move and manipulate us with the skill of a Broadway Theater.  To their credit, often times the show delivers some pretty amazing stuff week after week. Our hearts soar, we laugh, we cry, we fall in love all over again… unfortunately, it isn’t usually with the right Jesus with whom we fall in love.  

The Jesus who lived a humble life of service and perfection (because we never could), who died in the stead of sinners, who rose from the dead and ascended into heaven isn’t often spoken of in these places,  instead, we find a Jesus of moral principles, who says, “you’re good enough, smart enough and dog gone it, people like you!”  This is the Jesus who, if you do certain things, in the right way, will give you money, beauty, health and all sorts of other ridiculous things that He never did in the Bible. 

 To others, the church is a Hospital.  It is a place where those who are merely sick in their sins and trespasses go to receive medicine to become better people, better keepers of the law.  Here we receive the Law in small pills that we can easily digest.  Here, we also receive principles for better living.  If you put a filter on your Internet, then you will be okay with God, then He will like you again.  

The problem with the church as a Hospital idea is that we are not fully dead in our sins and trespasses (Eph 2:1), we are just ill and we need more law pills to help us.  Yet, the law always and only kills, it mortifies the flesh, it is designed to drive us to our knees because no one will ever be saved by the law (Rom 3:20).

To others, the church is a Hospice.  A hospice is a place for those who are dying and for whom there is no hope.  Medicine has failed and soon, they will meet their maker.  

This is a place where life is precious, every breath and every beat of the heart is a precious gift from God.  In a Hospice, people despair of their abilities to get up and to press forward, it is one second, one minute, one hour and one day at a time.  This is the sort of place where God is at work taking people into His death and for those who are found in Christ, there is a new dawn, soon to be revealed. 

The Hospice is a fine model for the church, yet much like in a hospice, there are bedpans, adult diapers and wallowing in filth, I can’t help but to put forth another paradigm for the church.

The church is not a place for the clean and pristine, but a place for the lowly, the broken and the dirty people. Whether they be paupers or billionaires, they are one and all dirty people who are full of filth and uncleanness.  They are not a sweet fragrance in the nose of God by their very nature.  Yet the church is God’s House, where He takes the things that are not and declares them to be the things that are.  In the House of God, through His Word, we are spoken righteous.  We are here emptied of ourselves and our sins, we are wiped clean and sent away forgiven, redeemed. 

So I propose that while the church is a Hospice, it is also an Outhouse.  It is a place where sinners come, divest themselves of their crap and find a source of great relief for their smelly and broken ways. 

The church is also an outhouse because sinners use and abuse it, much like the porta-potties at a county fair, these too are places where if you’re not careful, other people’s filth may well slosh onto you. 

So we find sinners in the house of God and here is the place where the devil loves to throw his yellow snowballs, using the very people of God as his tools. 

Come to the Lord's House, prepared to be relieved, prepared to be emptied of your filth, but also, be well aware that there are those in the outhouse who are there for the wrong reasons and will pee on the seat without a second thought. 

The House of the Lord is for sinners, that’s why you’re invited.




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