Blackberries and Church

Throughout the history of the world, mankind has been forced to come to grips with some undeniable and often uncomfortable truths. One such revelation is this: grass needs cut. I’m no weirdo, but I like mowing the yard. There is something liberating about walking several miles while pushing a loud machine, smelling the neighbor’s barbecue, twisting your ankle in giant holes and dodging trees and/or small children. I like my yard and I spend a lot of time on upkeep. One day I hope it looks like that dudes yard on the Scott’s Turf Builder commercial. And I don’t mind taking 4 or 5 hours of my Saturday to make it happen. In fact, I kind of love it.

But if you are looking out from the patio door, all the way in the back right hand corner of our land is a part I kind of hate. There is a contraption back there used to grow my blackberries and in front of that whole system are 2 apple trees (that’s right, the ones from last time), and in front of those is a giant fire pit where I burn stuff. I disaffectionately call this area, "the blackberries". And when you take your mower back into “the blackberries”, it may very well be destroyed by the time your finished.

Our blackberry bushes are held in place by an annoying wire system -- about 40 feet wide and 5 feet tall. Just behind that whole deal is a fence. The whole thing is a mess and it’s almost impossible to get my mower back there. And though I try, I almost always break something on my mower and/or on my body – so I hate going back there. My solution: let it go. So gradually over time, that section of my yard becomes completely overgrown and nasty – a place that nobody wants to go.

I feel like we have some blackberry areas as the church. There are places we don’t want to go because they are ugly, difficult to deal with, and could cause us to get hurt. When we go into these kinds of places we become vulnerable and uncomfortable. So for the sake of ourselves, we conviently let these aread go, because it’s easier that way.

In 2 Corinthians 5 Paul says that God has given all of us the “ministry of reconciliation”. He says that since the church is a group of people who have been created new again and since we live in a restored relationship with God, we must now engage in His mission to restore the world. The problem with that is it sometimes can be uncomfortable and inconvenient and even scary – but it’s really nothing compared to what God did when He looked down on this messed up world and decided to intervene.

God’s has chosen to reveal Himself to others through us – and like U.S. ambassadors, that often means leaving our comforts and luxuries and securities so that we can intervene in a dangerous and unstable environment. Followers of Jesus are called to speak life to those who are dead, light to those in darkness, and hope to the hopeless – to be in the world but not conformed to the same lifestyles. We are called to tell an alternative story, stand for truth in a world that has a false sense of knowledge, fight for justice where there is none, and bring excitement to those who are stranded like lighthouses pointing the way home in the night. We are invited to share in God’s redemption work. This is the church.

“So then we are accredited representatives (ambassadors) for Christ, since God is making His appeal through us”. 2 Corinthians 5:20

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