30 Jan 2024

Go Empty Handed

Our churches
“The Gospels aren’t cute bedtime stories at all."

I’ve been looking back at the notes I took when listening to Mike Frost at a conference some years ago. I may not be able to quote him exactly, but this is the essence of his address. 

“The Gospels aren’t cute bedtime stories at all. Far from sending us drifting off to a carefree sleep, they trouble us, because Jesus is not levelheaded, nor is he reasonable. Just when we imagine we have him figured out and boxed in, he wriggles free, confounding our formulas and simplistic explanations.

“Regardless of how much celebrity pastors might love their state-of-the-art air-conditioned churches with their professional musicians, flashing lights, coffee bars and bookshops, we cannot forget that Jesus died on a cross vulnerable, naked and empty-handed, covered by nothing but his own dried blood. His hands held no symbol of power. They were empty but for the nails that anchored him to that cross.

“If we take seriously the call to follow Jesus, we will find ourselves developing closer connections with our neighbourhood. By living lives of justice, kindness, hospitality, and generosity, we will model the life of Jesus to those who would never attend a church service or read the New Testament. We can do this without relying on large buildings and well-funded programs. Instead, like Jesus, we will wriggle free of much of the baggage and demands that traditional churches have loaded on us. And, like Jesus, we will go vulnerable, naked and empty-handed to others, with no motive other than to show grace and practice mercy.”