Creating a Christ-like Culture?
Talk about that too much and the next thing you know, we might again start spouting initials everywhere!
Maybe you’ll remember WWJD?
What Would Jesus Do?
Indeed. A Christ-like culture kind of gets started when we do things like Jesus might have done them.
But changing a culture from the outside in is hard work. I can modify some of my actions without ever changing my heart.
Have you ever heard the story of little Johnny? He was always in trouble in class–mostly for being out of his seat and talking all the time… One day he got paddled. After the tears and wailing were over, he was sitting in his seat quietly when he raised his hand to speak. The teacher asked what he wanted and he replied: “I may be sitting down on the outside, but on the inside I am standing up!”
The old heart’s a pesky thing, isn’t it?
Where the Church is called to be salt and light begins from within individual hearts within the church body itself. Being a part of a local body of believers is like participating in a practice game or an in house scrimmage. Our first opportunity to make a real difference can usually be found within our relationships among the church.
I would love to exist within a universal church culture where the idea that we shoot our wounded is unheard of at best and obsolete at worst.
However, creating a Christ-like Culture has to flow from the concepts of mercy, grace, and redemption.
Even though it is disputed in some circles, I love the story of the woman caught in sin from John 8. If authentic Jesus material, and I have faith that it is, it teaches us an aspect of what a Christ-like culture looks like:
Jesus returned to the Mount of Olives, but early the next morning he was back again at the Temple. A crowd soon gathered, and he sat down and taught them. As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd.
“Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?”
They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust.
When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman.
Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?” “No, Lord,” she said. And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”
How different than ours does Jesus’ response look?
Seriously. That’s a real question.
How different than ours does Jesus’ response look?
What Jesus said didn’t negate her mistakes.
What Jesus said didn’t sweep it under the rug and act like it never happened.
Everybody there was fully aware of her sin.
Instead of condemnation and self-righteousness (and if anybody had the right to condemn and be righteous, it was Jesus), she was offered mercy, grace, and redemption.
Do you know what mercy, grace, and redemption add up to? Second chances.
Jesus is the Lord of Second Chances!
A Christ-like Culture will embody the second chance nature of Jesus!
By now you may know I have a new ministry. After several years of struggle and heartache, I have been given a second chance to work in a full time ministry position again… It happened because God is a God of Second Chances–and he provided a very special group of leaders and saints at the Lake Harbour Church of Christ in Ridgeland, MS that are living proof.
No, I was not caught or compromised by some moral failure. But through tragedy, I had to learn how to love God all over again. I had to learn how to put my anger and pain in the right perspective. I had to learn how to live within the lifelong process of being a person of faith and trust.
Yesterday, I picked up my favorite preaching/ studying Bible. I bought it brand new on July 28, 2011. Less than four months later my family would be devastated by the double murder that will rock our lives forever. This particular Bible was hardly broken in—a process I am blessed to begin even now in this new ministry.
As I thumbed through it’s pages, I came across a passage of scripture that was underlined. The only such passage in this still relatively new Bible. Along with those underlined verses was a simple sentence written at the top of the page. I don’t have any idea when or where or why I wrote those words. I don’t know if I was listening to someone else or studying on my own.
But what I found gave me chills. It was as if the old me was planting a message of hope for the new me to find.
Here’s the scripture:
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. (Romans 5:1-5 NIV)
And then these words written above the text:
Perseverance and grief give us a new voice!
A Christ-like culture embodies, encourages, creates, and celebrates second chances.
A Christ-like culture gives rise to a place where new voices can be warmed up, stretched, and brought to a full throat roar of praise and celebration.
People make mistakes.
People make mistakes with sometimes grave consequences.
But the lost can be found again.
And those who grant, create, and give second chances of mercy, grace and redemption are the physical embodiment of a Christ-like culture.
Shouldn’t it begin with me and you?
Les Ferguson, Jr.
May 9, 2014