by Brad D.
Last week I put out a call for repentance for the church, in the article, Church in a Trance: Full-Length Article, where I called the church to grow along the lines of Responsibility, Acceptance, Freedom, and Response.
Churches of all traditions can respond to this call if they are open to it. The call is going out for a more open church:
Open Eyes: Open our eyes to the world that we live in, and how to work with God to make it a better place, transforming it into his kingdom. Open our eyes to injustice, pain and need, and take action as God's representatives and partners. Open our eyes to the truth that we as a church have often neglected our responsibility to the world.
Open Arms: Open our arms to people because they belong to God and not because they adhere to our ideals and stereotypes. Accept people because God accepts us and them. Deliberately and generously welcome them. Offer kindness, support, friendship and belonging. Refrain from offering advice, judgment and enforcement of homogeneity. Open our hearts to love people and find the treasure that compounds in our own lives. Through open arms, manufacture Freedom and destroy Control.
Open Mind: Open our minds to being wrong and discussing the truth. With so many "right" people with very different opinions (particularly about the interpretation of the Bible) we can't all be right, in fact we can't agree on many fundamentals. Take a good look at the church's beliefs and its many variations. Take a good look at those calling for a more progressive, open-ended interpretation to Biblical truth. We need to work out our salvation and place in God's kingdom through much thoughtful consideration. When we don't do this we actually blind our eyes to truth instead of embracing it as something to be obtained the hard way. Don't accept easy interpretations based on tradition. Teach each other by challenging each other and discussing the truth as you see it. Treasure the Conversation that engages your mind.
Open Spirit: Open our spirits to Respond to God in the current age in a unique way compared to previous points in history. God is calling. His call brings us to new places and new maturity, leading to a new understanding of him. His call is not a repeating litany but a new fresh voice. He calls his people. He yearns for us. He challenges us. He wants to reveal himself and truth itself. Open our spirits to hear him above our traditions and traditional views of truth. Seek and then don't be surprised when you Find!
My prayer is for a new trend, where different traditions of Christian believers open their eyes, arms, hearts and spirits in whatever ways they can based on their willingness and starting point. It will take work to open our doors where they have been shut for so long, and any steps toward progress should be counted as an achievement!
Do you have stories of how openness has transformed believers and churches? Send them to me or post as a comment....