Jesus modelled the ministry of reconciliation
Jesus came to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10). He entered the world in the form of a human to reach those who were separated from God in order to reconcile them to God.
Jesus not only came to provide a way for man to be reconciled to God but also modelled God's method of reaching the lost that I believe the Church in general has moved away from. Just as Jesus came to seek and save the Lost, the Church is called to go and seek and save the lost.
God's method to reach the Lost
Jesus came to seek!
God took the initiative! Jesus entered humanity's darkness (John 1:1-18; Hebrews 2:14-18). He did not wait for broken humanity to find Him. As the Light of the world, Jesus made His dwelling amongst imperfect humanity to draw mankind back into fellowship with God.
Just as the Father sent His Son into the world to reconcile man to Himself, so He sends His Body, the Church into the world to reconcile man to God. Just as Jesus came as the Light of the world, He sends the Church into darkness to be light (see Matthew 5:14).
Sadly the Church, for the most part, expects broken humanity to find its way to her meetings instead of her entering into the darkness.
Jesus came to reconcile man to God and not to a culture!
Jesus sought the Lost to reconcile man to God. He did not seek out the Lost to convert them to a christian culture! Christ's priority was to bring man back into fellowship with the Father and with other believers. The believer's christian culture (the way he responds to God with his life) becomes a barrier for the Lost when it is inauthentic, inconsistent and only reserved for church meetings. Christian culture becomes attractive and influential when it is the fruit of sincerity and an authentic relationship with God and other believers.
The moment the Christian has to adopt a form to be acceptable in the church, a cultural wall is erected that becomes a barrier to the unchurched!
The reason many Christians are uncomfortable with inviting the Lost to their church meetings is that there is often a discrepancy between the way they are in the world and the way they are in their church meetings.
The solution is not to force a different church culture that will be less offensive and more palatable for the Lost but to ensure that the church is authentic in her relationship with God and others, both in the church meetings as well as in the world! God is more concerned with the heart than with our christian culture (the form we choose to express our relationship with God).
When the Church strips herself of her man-made form she will be able to enter the darkness of broken humanity and be able to reconcile man to God.
The church that seeks to impose her form on broken humanity seeks to convert man to culture rather than to Christ!
Floyd McClung, in his book entitled "You see bones, I see an army," states,
"The church that does not carry a passion to reach the world isolates people behind walls of cultural irrelevance."
I believe the Church is called to be uncompromising in essence but flexible in form. That way the Church can be light in the darkness and be "all things to all men" (form) without compromising the Truth (essence).
I agree with McClung when he writes,
"The Spirit of God calls each generation to re-imagine church for their own context and culture, and to a fresh encounter with God to live the Gospel."
The Church must get rid of old wine skins - old ways of doing church and adopted christian culture, if she is to make room for new wine - revival and awakening as real believers connect with a real world with the real love of God.
The role of the Church is to enter the darkness to seek and reconcile broken humanity to its loving Creator so that believers can enjoy fellowship with God and one another (1 John 1:3)!
It is time for the Church to be revived and for the "grave clothes" to be removed so that she will "come out" (John 11:43) in newness of life to reconcile man to God. This is the ministry of reconciliation that has been entrusted to Christ's Body!