For several weeks I have gazed down at a beautiful leaf caught in a crack between the sanctuary and the fellowship center. Each time, I would gasp at the striking colors of yellow, orange and red. I finally had to investigate only to discover that it was an artificial leaf.
It struck me immediately that Jesus used such pictures to warn the religious of his day. He used images like cups that were clean on the outside but dirty on the inside and whitewashed tombs of dead men’s bones. Jesus often called the religious leaders “hypocrites” and is best understood as play acting. It is pretending with sincerity to be something you are not.
I think of those outside the church who may someday repent and confess Christ as Savior. They watch the church intently wanting to see if we truly are who we claim to be. Truth often hangs in the balance. They muse, “Do you really have the hope you claim? Do your words and actions actually validate your truth claims? Is Jesus real? Are you real? Does the church offer me anything significant?”
The church today MUST impact culture. James Hunter, in TO CHANGE THE WORLD, offers the only way. Hunter is a sociologist who argues that the church has failed to impact our culture in trying to be against culture, by seeking relevance, claiming to be purists, retreating from the world, and often copying the world. He gives a simple way to gain lost ground. He calls it “faithful presence.” He simply argues that for the church to change the world each member of the body of Christ must daily, faithfully and consistently present to the world the presence of Christ living in us. If our lives are attractive, and they pick us up, then they must discover that we are real. Paul instructed Timothy to avoid men who hold “to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power” II Timothy 3:5.
Love God! Love others! Serve!