KBC is built on an old creek bed. The foundation was placed on top of that shifty Missouri clay. Those cracks in the walls—if you watch regularly you will see that they are sometimes wider, sometimes smaller. So I kind of mean it literally when I say, Our House Rocks—sways—moves…
You have likely seen in KBC publications this attempt to describe the qualities that make KBC a House that Rocks:
We love each other, we are inclusive, willing to work, enjoy multi-generational activities, being involved in service and ministry. We are on a journey together, and KBC is our home and we are family. We worship, explore, question, doubt, encourage and care. We are the living church. When we say “you would love my church” we are talking about the people, the environment, the feeling of belonging.
I came across these four qualities in an article by Tom and Joni Schutlz in Children’s Ministry Magazine. As I read, I realized the qualities describe KBC—you will see these on the new pole banners in the parking lot and along Adams:
Our experience leads us to expect to encounter God in this place. Through each other we experience authenticity—we expect to encounter God in ways that touch our hearts and minds in a balanced, authentic expression. We expect the cry of our souls to be heard by God through one other. Our passion for living the way of Christ connects us with God and each other in tangible acts of service. KBC is a place we anticipate God’s presence, and we see the face of God in each other.
The need to be cared for, believed in and encouraged is universal. This post from an old friend provides, in my opinion, the best explanation of radical hospitality. He is particularly talking about sexual identity, but you can replace the “difference” with any other:
That got me to thinking about what it is we’re really asking God when we try to pray the gay away. Remove all the churchy language and at their core the prayers all go something like this: God, this creation of yours didn’t turn out the way I want them to be. Please fix them for me. Is it really any surprise that the answer is a resounding “NO!”? What do you suppose the answer would be if the core prayer went more like this: God, I am struggling to understand this creation of yours. Please help me love them the way you do.
That is radical hospitality: loving “them” the way God does.
I think our commitment to Radical Hospitality feeds the quality of Fearless Conversation. Expressing love for all, while giving people permission to “be” requires risk. Being open, requires being vulnerable. It means we are open to the adventure of change and growth as individuals within the family. To embrace the challenge of change, we must bravely enter into dialogue with those who may say things that shake our sense of security.
Genuine Humility is the fourth quality, and I believe is the foundation of the other three. To see God, love the other, to be willing to do the listening part of conversation, all require that we place something, someone before our own needs and desires. The original article describes genuine humility like this:
…When you practice genuine humility, you aren’t so wrapped up in what YOU do or like best, YOUR favorite curriculum, and other things centered around YOU.
Hummmmm….Which leads me to the question: What needs to happen for you to “do”, display, express, extend these qualities?
I lost the source, but somewhere on the internet someone said:
Real family, real community, is found wherever members hear Jesus’ words and follow him. That’s what’s solid, no matter what state laws or genetic ties say. It’s true what they say: love makes a family. And not just the love of members for one another, but the kind of love that Jesus showed, a Great Commission kind of love, that says that this group of people are members of one Body, given not just for their own joy, but for the sake of others, for the sake of the world.
Jesus offered a prayer for his disciples that include us, in John 17. Listen to my paraphrase of Jesus offering this prayer:
I pray that you, KBC, will be one. I pray you will be as united as I am with my Father. I pray that your unity will allow the world to believe in me. I have given you what you need to accomplish this seemingly un-natural feat of unity: I have given you access to my Father and you have my Spirit within you. I want you to be with me so you can see all that God is. I have made God known to you. I pray the love God has for me to be as completely in you.
This is the prayer that is being offered even today for you. God’s desire is to be one with you so we may be one with each other. What do you need to change or embrace or reject…what is keeping you from unity with Christ? What is keeping you from experiencing unity IN Christ? If you can name it, write it down. Whether you can name it or not, know that Jesus is interceding on your behalf:
I pray you will be as united as I am with my Father
I have given you access to my Father and you have my Spirit within you.
I want you to be with me so you can see all that God is.
I pray the love God has for me to be as completely in you.
May we rejoice in the assurance that Christ is with us, continuing to pray for our oneness, our unity.
The unity Jesus prays for us is not of this world. He compares it to the unity that exists within the Trinity—Father, Son and Holy Spirit—and that is beyond our explanation. Web blogger, Lee Koontz, wrote: “It helps, I think, to understand that the unity for which Jesus asks is not based on who we are, but on who God is.”
God knows that even when we sing “We are one in the bond of love”, that we do not always agree with each other. By some miracle, though, we are one in Christ whether we agree with each other or not. We are one in Christ whether we like one another or not. By choosing to be a follower of Christ, we become part of the community. We become part…of the body of Christ.
God gave us Jesus, and Jesus gave us the Spirit which is what we need to be able to experience oneness. Left to our own devices we do our best to wriggle things around so we come out on top, not standing shoulder to shoulder. The unity that God wants to create out of this bunch of unique, independent, free thinking, educated, strong willed, strong minded and just plain stubborn group, well that kind of unity is not within our own power to create or even exist within. You name a theological or political or social issue and I can name people in this room who fall on each end of the spectrum and a few places in between. So how do we sit together and worship? How do we stand side by side serving each other and neighbor? We live in unity through the living presence of Christ that is at work within us.
Over the years our staff has gone through several different planning processes using guidance from a variety of people and resources. At some point in the last few years, we gave voice to a sentiment that we struggled to express accurately. On one hand, we recognized that we who ARE Kirkwood Baptist Church are a diverse group when it comes to opinions, backgrounds, etc. Yet, the thing that draws people and keeps people at KBC is the strong sense of community. So what makes us work? This summer we have tried to get you thinking about that. We have suggested the four characteristics, but we know it is not a complete or comprehensive list.
I think this is the KBC secret: Diversity is trumped by community. When put in the position to choose my way or the highway true KBCers choose community. I can be me and you can be you and together we are…the unified, beautified body of Christ!
As I bring this sermon to a close, I offer you an old-white-lady’s version of “slam poetry” with a piece titled, “Our House Rocks”.
Our House Rocks: #ywlmc
You would love my church is not just a slogan, a tag line or a catch phrase. You would love my church is a story of unity that is far from perfect but always the goal. I want people to love the people of this house…this rockin’ house.
This house literally built on a creek bed that fills with water when it rains beneath our feet and seeps into the walls and through the concrete floor.
This house, this rockin house that has pipes that sweat and with a drip drip drip drip drip becomes a ceiling that crashes down under the weight of the moisture.
This house, this rockin house that has coffee stains on the brand new carpet from the cup offered to a shaky hand, a hand made unsteady through years and years and years of serving others.
You would love my church, this rocking house, these imperfect people who literally choose every day to add another rock to a sturdy foundation a solid foundation built “On nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness”.
This rocking church set the corner stone created by the master carpenter, the builder of all that is good, and pure, and holy and secure. We kick at it, take a swing at it with a pic ax, leave a steady drip drip drip to erode it away like the grand canyon…but still it stands…solid and good and pure and holy and whole and secure.
I love this house, this rockin’ house where when the rain comes down and the floods come up we stand shoulder to shoulder and sop up the mess the world sends our way cuz your mess is my mess and our mess is your mess and together we will scrub, mend, heal, be, do…..
I love this house, this rockin’ house where even when I move away from the solid rock onto the shifting sand and the storms come and bang me around and I claw my way to the doorstep to beg for shelter the door is already open and there is a hot cup of love waiting just for me.
You would love my church, this rockin’ house where God shows up and is easy to see on every face and I mean every face that is 100 percent sure that God is love and every face that wonders, questions, doubts. Ask the question. Say I don’t know. Be unsure. Have another point of view cuz at this house, this rockin’ house you can….you can….we can…talk, think, try it out…be right and wrong.
Our Church Rocks. Hash it and tag it. You would love my church.