Weather Alert:

Church programs for Monday, Jan. 22 will resume their normal schedule at all locations this evening.

Programming Note:

Leawood’s Sunday night in-person worship has been moved to 4 pm for Sunday, February 11. 

Close this search box.

How the church aims to shape an alienated world

August 23, 2022

Daily Scripture

2 Corinthians 5:14-21

14 The love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: one died for the sake of all; therefore, all died. 15 He died for the sake of all so that those who are alive should live not for themselves but for the one who died for them and was raised.

16 So then, from this point on we won’t recognize people by human standards. Even though we used to know Christ by human standards, that isn’t how we know him now. 17 So then, if anyone is in Christ, that person is part of the new creation. The old things have gone away, and look, new things have arrived!

18 All of these new things are from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and who gave us the ministry of reconciliation. 19 In other words, God was reconciling the world to himself through Christ, by not counting people’s sins against them. He has trusted us with this message of reconciliation.

20 So we are ambassadors who represent Christ. God is negotiating with you through us. We beg you as Christ’s representatives, “Be reconciled to God!” 21 God caused the one who didn’t know sin to be sin for our sake so that through him we could become the righteousness of God.

Daily Reflection & Prayer

Leading Beyond the Walls was the title of one of Pastor Hamilton’s earliest books. * Resurrection has always been about more than just serving current members. In today’s reading, the apostle Paul said people’s deepest spiritual issue is alienation from God. But the good news, he said, is that God loves us, wants to reconcile the world (including us) to himself, and acted in Christ to overcome our alienation. At Resurrection, we make it our mission to call others to “be reconciled to God.”

  • The Message paraphrased verse 21 as “We’re speaking for Christ himself now: Become friends with God; he’s already a friend with you.” ** Do you picture God as eager to bridge the distance to all human beings (including you), as distant and uninterested, or as angry and punitive? How has your reconciliation with God made you “a new creature in Christ”? Who do you know who needs to hear that good news, quite possibly from you?
  • Is there a historical or current event or person that you believe presents a particularly vivid picture of God’s reconciling work in the world? In what ways do you sense God at work through that person or event to bring about reconciliation and wholeness? When have you seen anger and pain changed for the better as reconciliation takes place?

Lord, help me each day to develop greater understanding, compassion and vision. Then as I become more whole, help me to see each person as your precious child. Amen.

GPS Insights

Picture of  Brandon Gregory

Brandon Gregory

Brandon Gregory is a volunteer for the worship and missions teams at Church of the Resurrection. He helps lead worship at Leawood's modern worship services, as well as at the West and Downtown services, and is involved with the Malawi missions team at home.

Paul’s letters to the Corinthians have some interesting backstory. Today’s passage is from the second letter. In-between Paul’s two letters, teachers from Jerusalem had come to Corinth and began teaching that Gentiles who wanted to follow Jesus had to follow Jewish tradition. Paul was one of the most fervent Jewish religious leaders of his time before his conversion, so if anyone would be able to see the truth in the old Jewish teachings and point those traditions to Christ, it would be him.

But Paul didn’t do that. Paul instead lays out a theology of reconciliation and direct connection to God. This is in sharp contrast to the teachings of the Pharisees in Jesus’ time, who limited direct connection with God to a select few. This is also in sharp contrast when directed to a group that had been historically excluded from the faithful Israelites. Paul said that not only were these new Christians, insiders—they were ambassadors! They would be the ones responsible for carrying the good news of Christ to other people and groups. Instead of using the power and authority of the Jewish teachers coming to Corinth, Paul took that power and gave it to the new Christians. This was a huge upset.

What does this mean for us today? It can mean a lot of things, but one striking thing I pull from that is that God has a knack for taking the historic outsiders, the ones who had been shunned by the “system” of organized religion, and making them the spokespeople for God’s hope. There are times we’re all going to feel like we’re the new Christians struggling for a seat at the table; but, for many of us who have been Christians for years, there will also be times when we’re the Jewish teachers, telling people that they too can be let into the inner circle if only they practice their faith as carefully as us.

I think about how the church has historically treated gay, lesbian, and trans people wanting to encounter God. These people have undoubtedly been the outsiders, the people peering in from the outside and wondering if the church could be a place for them. With the recent decision from the Methodist church on openness to welcoming these people into our congregations, I feel like an upset much like what Paul hinted at is on the verge of happening. But we’re not quite there yet.

I’ve talked about this on here before, but I did not grow up in the Methodist church. I grew up in a much more conservative Evangelical church. Excluding gay, lesbian, and trans people was what many of my church friends considered to be a cornerstone of their faith. It wasn’t long before I started questioning that, and eventually just rejected outright when I met godly people that didn’t fit the mold that we had created.

For a long time, I contented myself with thinking that I simply wasn’t one of those Christians that hated these outsiders. Simply knowing that was enough for me to feel good about my place there. But after meeting numerous gay, lesbian, and trans people who were legitimately scared of me when I mentioned I was a Christian, I soon found that it wasn’t enough to simply wash my hands of that when there was still injustice happening. When injustice exists, silence is complicity. Even with the strides toward acceptance in the church, there is still injustice and inequality in the church for LGBTQ people—and to really be free of that myself, I had to take a stand against it.

As we’re moving toward acceptance of LGBTQ people in the church, it can be very tempting for us long-time insiders to simply smile and act like nothing has happened to hurt these people, or even keep them on the outskirts of the church where they take directions from us. This is not enough. We need gay, lesbian, and trans people in our small groups; we need them on our leadership teams and in our worship bands. We need to go beyond simply opening the doors for them and make them ambassadors, much like people before had done for us. Anything less than this is not equality; it’s just another wall we have to keep people away from God.

© 2024 Resurrection: A United Methodist Church. All Rights Reserved.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

* Adam Hamilton, Leading Beyond the Walls: Developing Congregations with a Heart for the Unchurched. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2002.
** Peterson, Eugene H. The Message Numbered Edition Hardback. Navpress. Kindle Edition.