Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Jesus' Friends

Another quote from Tim Keller, this one from The Prodigal God:

In general, religiously observant people were offended by Jesus, but those estranged from religious and moral observance were intrigued and attracted to him. We see this throughout the New Testament accounts of Jesus' life. In every case where Jesus meets a religious person and a sexual outcast (Luke 7) or a religious person and a racial outcast (John 3-4) or a religious person and a political outcast (Luke 19), the outcast is the one who connects with Jesus and the elder-brother type (see Luke 15) does not. Jesus says to the respectable religious leaders "the tax collectors and the prostitutes enter the kingdom before you" (Matthew 21:31).

Jesus teaching consistently attracted the irreligious while offending the Bible-believing, religious people of his day. However, in the main, our churches today do not have this effect. The kind of outsiders Jesus attracted are not attracted to contemporary churches, even our most avant-garde ones. We tend to draw conservative, buttoned-down, moralistic people. The licentious and liberated or the broken and marginal avoid church.

That can only mean one thing. If the preaching of our ministers and the practice of our parishioners do not have the same effect on people that Jesus had, then we must not be declaring the same message that Jesus did. If our churches aren't appealing to younger brothers, they must be more full of elder brothers than we'd like to think.

There are a lot of great quotes in Prodigal God, but this one might have provoked the most thought in me. What do you think? Is Keller right? And if so, what are the implications for those of us who follow Christ?

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