A Little Understanding – Building a Protective Covering
What does, “I need a new roof” mean? When I was a kid my dad told me we needed a new roof. I thought this was going to be a costly and time consuming job. To me a new roof meant that the house up to the top of the walls was fine, but that thing with the peak on the top and the overhang around the bottom had to be replaced. It turned out the roof he was talking about was just the shingles. To finish everything it took one day and it didn’t break the bank. As you can see there can be a lot of confusion over what is meant by the word roof, so I have decided to start calling it the “protective covering”. By changing the name, none of the components of the roof system from flashing to shingles to rafters to insulation, will be forgotten.
Just as you don’t want to forget any components in a house’s protective covering, you don’t want to forget any components in a Christ follower’s and collective of Christ follower’s protective covering. The structure gives the protective covering strength and pitch, an architectural word for angle. Roofing materials such as shingles and flashing, stop the precipitation from penetrating. Insulation keeps the extreme temperatures outside from affecting the inside. Without a protective covering, the Christ follower and the collective of Christ followers, start to look like the world outside instead of being more and more like Jesus.
As Jesus was preparing for the best thing that ever has been done for us and the worst thing that could ever be done to Him, He said this prayer.
“They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world.” John 17:16-18 (NIV)
This section of Scripture is often paraphrased as “being in the world but not of the world”. This interpretation can create a problem. Summing it up this way makes it a, who we are supposed to be statement, without any information on how we are supposed to be that way. To put it another way, this paraphrase eliminates the most important part of the equation, verse 17. Verse 17 is the protective covering so that those who have become Christ followers can be in the world, bombarded by the hostile environment, without being overtaken by the world.
Jesus was never saying that it should be done on our own, instead it was quite the opposite. Jesus, in verse 15, was praying for the disciples, that God would keep them safe. Then in verse 17, He asks God to “sanctify them…” (set them apart) “…by the truth; your [God’s] word is truth”…
A Little Understanding – A Poor Protective Cover
…What does keeping the outside, outside, look like in the life of a Christ follower? There was at one time a very thick line between us and them. I don’t even like using the term us and them because it suggests that the “us” (Christ followers), are somehow better than the “them” (those who haven’t made the choice to follow Christ).
Us and them, are really the same when it comes to measuring who is better. All of us and all of them have sinned and all of us and all of them have fallen short of the mark. That being said, tradition within the community of believers has set standards [rules] for living as a Christ follower to keep what they identified as the outside, outside…
The Pharisees were known for their rules…
…added to rules, topped up with a few more rules, leaving little room for mercy or for that matter, God’s truth. When rules dominate it is difficult to love or have joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Rules require a judgement of guilt or innocence that leads to actions being taken based on the rule. This makes a well-defined line between us and them that is a form of protective covering but it isn’t the right one.
It’s like a leaky roof with a bucket under the leak…
…it becomes a cover-up for a poor protective cover. Rules (dos and don’ts lists) are temporary fixes for specific issues that never produce a permanent solution. There is no question a bucket under a leak makes an obvious difference, but only for a short period of time. At some point, a way of protecting the home from the elements must be found, one that corrects the problem not temporarily covers it up.
Creating a set of rules based on abstaining from this act or that behaviour…
…blinds us to the reality of what being a Christ follower and a collective of Christ followers in fallen world is really about. The line between us and them, again I don’t like using this term, is so thin that those who truly want to be like Jesus, run the risk of crossing it every moment of their lives.
Instead of a set of rules that attempt to define what we can and cannot do, the Christ follower is called on to live out a set of behaviours and actions that are defined by what Jesus would do. Why I as a follower of Christ behave and act in a certain manner, is founded not on rules but on this scripture, “I am the Lord your God; consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am holy” Leviticus 11:44 (NIV).
The proper protective covering is not a bunch of rules but instead, a way of living dedicated to being Holy just like our God.
From time to time my blog will include abridged excerpts from my book “Blueprint.” Like any author/blogger, I find it difficult to leave the words I have written in my computer until a publisher can be found. Maybe it’s because someone somewhere needs to read these words now.
For more posts from my book Blueprint find the heading “Categories” on the right side of this page and click on “Blueprint (my book)”