Last week I went to a musical festival for the first time in a long time . A friend went with me and my goal was to listen to the bands and enjoy the music and, oh, there was this minor thing that God seemed to mention in my soul that He would meet me there and we would “talk” a bit about my life journey.
What happened as the night went on was astounding inside of me: I couldn’t stop people-watching, but I wasn’t just watching them, I was feeling their joy, pain, longing, beauty, yearning and my compassion was growing for these people whom I had never met. And I felt ashamed and guilty that I had left them so completely when I entered into the sub-culture of Churchianity 19 years ago.
It was as though God was saying louder and louder in my ear, “Do you love me? Do you love me?” And then, “Look at them, Kevin. Look at them! Hear them. Hear their music. Hear their questions and thoughts, anger and hopes. Feel them. Know them. I LOVE THEM!!!” And since then I haven’t stopped feeling His love, pain and longing for them.
All at once it was as though I had been in a time capsule and I realized that when I started following Jesus back in 1991, I didn’t just enter into Jesus, but unfortunately I entered into “Churchianity” and stopped really hearing those who weren’t following him. They were too “angry” for me. They were “non-Christians.” They had “questions I couldn’t answer.” (these are my thoughts at the time). They thought I was “weird” and “too religious” (I was!) So I got the hell out of their lives and entered into life with a different group of people, mostly people who couldn’t stand “those people.” They certainly didn’t know “those people.” They were safe. They were “saved people.” They were “chosen.” They were “insiders.” They were “good Christian folks” with their own language and rules and power structures. And it was a nice little bubble to live in for awhile. It made me feel so redeemed because I didn’t listen to the same music or have the same conversations as those “awful sinners.”
But now I am convinced that God is moving me in a different way that is more like Him. You see, God loves people, especially those on the fringes of life looking in. If He is angry I think it is against those “people of God” who don’t care about those outside of their Churches…well unless they come in.
Check out Ezekiel 34:1-16
1 The word of the LORD came to me: 2 “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Woe to the shepherds of Israel who only take care of themselves! Should not shepherds take care of the flock? 3 You eat the curds, clothe yourselves with the wool and slaughter the choice animals, but you do not take care of the flock. 4 You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured. You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost. You have ruled them harshly and brutally. 5 So they were scattered because there was no shepherd, and when they were scattered they became food for all the wild animals. 6 My sheep wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. They were scattered over the whole earth, and no one searched or looked for them.
7 ” ‘Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the LORD : 8 As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, because my flock lacks a shepherd and so has been plundered and has become food for all the wild animals, and because my shepherds did not search for my flock but cared for themselves rather than for my flock, 9 therefore, O shepherds, hear the word of the LORD : 10 This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I am against the shepherds and will hold them accountable for my flock. I will remove them from tending the flock so that the shepherds can no longer feed themselves. I will rescue my flock from their mouths, and it will no longer be food for them.
11 ” ‘For this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I myself will search for my sheep and look after them. 12 As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness. 13 I will bring them out from the nations and gather them from the countries, and I will bring them into their own land. I will pasture them on the mountains of Israel, in the ravines and in all the settlements in the land. 14 I will tend them in a good pasture, and the mountain heights of Israel will be their grazing land. There they will lie down in good grazing land, and there they will feed in a rich pasture on the mountains of Israel. 15 I myself will tend my sheep and have them lie down, declares the Sovereign LORD. 16 I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak, but the sleek and the strong I will destroy. I will shepherd the flock with justice.
I’ve been thinking a lot about this passage, and especially v.10:
10 This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I am against the shepherds and will hold them accountable for my flock. I will remove them from tending the flock so that the shepherds can no longer feed themselves. I will rescue my flock from their mouths…
I wonder if it applies to those Christians who really don’t care about those outside of their Churches? (And don’t tell me they do unless they have actual friends who are outside of their Church).
Again, today is a big day: I am renouncing Churchianity in my life and recommitting myself to Jesus and those who don’t fit in current Churches. Who’s with me?