Bernie Anderson
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the blog

Current musings, whatever they may be. 

Sunday Sermonizing: Bridges

True confessions:

When I was a pastor I didn’t have much concern or empathy for the realities facing people in business or government or other marketplaces - except they love Jesus and participate in community like everyone else. I didn’t understand their lives so much, back then. And it was easy for me to judge. I judged with respect, polity, and silence. But judged nonetheless.

I regret that attitude.

And not to make excuses, I had some great examples to follow, mind you. My colleagues in ministry did the same, so it seemed like an okay thing to do. Sitting around tables at conferences, I would hear other pastors and ministry types, many years my senior, bemoaning the state of the church. At that time Sunday night services were on their way to becoming the endangered species they are today (this was the 1990’s). I remember several old pastors lamenting the death of Sunday nights and reminiscing about the old days when people came to services because there was nothing better to do.

I could be wrong, but it seems I remember something about the advent of electric lights involved in those complain sessions. It was a long time ago.

Several years ago I was sitting at a table with a group of local business people, entrepreneurs, and philanthropists - and heard the same conversation from the other side. Church leaders don’t understand the pressure on the rest of us. Rising expectations in the marketplace, demands on home and family - and the assumption that Jesus-followers are involved with Christian community.

I think a lot about bridges, having lived in both worlds now.

How do Church and marketplace live in a common spirituality and unified priorities? This is an ongoing discussion I have with folks. Not in so many words - but in learning what people are passionate about and how they feed that passion.

There seems to evidence that pre-Roman, Celtic Christians bridged that gap well. The marketplace and the church did life together, and the community saw it and was drawn to it.

How do we do this in an increasingly dualistic and polarized and complicated society?

Jesus makes the every day and the common holy. How do we live in that sacred common? How do we build better bridges?

I have more questions than answers. It’s a long-standing complicated subject. But there are answers somewhere in the words Jesus spoke in Matthew 5-7.

When the Church and the marketplace walk together in the Kingdom, something powerful happens in our society. There is astounding potential for culture change and personal transformation. But only if the Church and the marketplace are walking the ways of Jesus.

It won’t work if one or the other are chasing money or fame or power. And it’s a rare moment when one or the other (or both) are not chasing money or fame or power.

Jesus walked us through the mission, vision, and values of the Kingdom in the Sermon on the Mount. When the Church and the marketplace are walking in those values there will be a change in the people and culture around us - and our communities will be amazed at the beauty they see.

The key is walking in Jesus values and power on both sides - and several solid bridges between two worlds.

When God wants to sort out the world, as the Beatitudes in the Sermon on the Mount make clear, he doesn’t send in the tanks. He sends in the meek, the broken, the justice-hungry, the peacemakers, the pure-hearted and so on.
— N.T. Wright