“North America is a place where people have absorbed just enough Christianity to inoculate them against the contagion of the real thing.” – Will Willimon, Resident Aliens
This is as true inside the church as without.
In a world eradicated of measles, we forgot the danger. The virus’s threat became hypothetical. Without a known danger it is easier to accommodate those who chose, or even choose yourself, to forgo vaccinations. After-all it is the choice between two hypothetical dangers: between the danger of measles and that posed by vaccines. Then, beginning in Disneyland, we were reminded of how one of the dangers is very real.
Stepping on toes. This is the description I have heard about a powerful convicting sermon. A message that cuts through to a person’s own heart… the lasting effect is about the same as a big footed clout making his way down your aisle at the theater. A crunched toe hurts, but is forgotten by the next scene. In the same way a sermon drifts to the back of the mind as the stomach grumbles for lunch.
I accommodate the process, apply the vaccine. After worship, I stand in the foyer to offer a handshake. A smile. A compliment. We will do the same thing next Sunday.
The church has forgotten – maybe never known – the radical power of God’s love. It is a force to be reckoned with – not dangerous, but change inducing. This change is not for my neighbor, but myself. The effect isn’t seen inside the church, but it influences actions of everyday life. If I am not living differently this week from last week, then I have missed the power of Christ. Inoculated to Grace.
How can I, as pastor, change to encourage grace? How can I teach that our worship hour is only the beginning… Probably can’t forgo handshakes to literally stomp on toes, but the image is fun…