Beyond the walls

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Watched an old Tony Randall movie over the weekend. Paul Douglas, playing farmer Pop Larkin, responded to his wife’s caution about a neighbor,

Oh, he’s all right of a fellow.  He just hasn’t has learned that ‘Do unto others’ part yet.

Probably true of a lot of us—and of a lot of our churches.

We do a good job of looking like church and followers on Sunday morning, but how do we make sure it spills over into our week? How does worship become a lifestyle of following Christ?

That can be a problem.

Can we truly seek God for an hour, can we bow in awe before His overwhelming presence, and then walk out of church and not reflect that presence to all around us?

I don’t think so.

Worship—and the Christian life in general—does not work that way. If we really are all right, His priorities become ours. The opening of the heart to His love; the surrender of will to His purpose.

William Temple, Archbishop of Canterbury, one hundred years ago described the Christian life in worship as

the submission of all our nature to God. It is the quickening of conscience by His holiness; the nourishment of mind with His truth; the purifying of imagination by His Beauty; the opening of the heart to His love; the surrender of will to His purpose–and all of this gathered up in adoration.

Perhaps James says it even better.

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

When we forget that “do unto others” part, the world does not see a worshiping community, and even less a God who loves them. Instead they see a self-reflective, narcissistic church, consumed in self-affirmation.

Here’s an image for you. The early church owned no property, so no fellowship hall, no education building, and no sanctuary.

It’s probably pretty hard to be insular when you have no walls.

We have spent two thousand years building walls, both physical and metaphorical. Perhaps we can spend the next few years looking beyond the walls — breaking them down — by figuring out that “do unto others” part.

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