Tag Archives: christians

Mars Hill; the Castle.

22 Oct

Sunday was interesting, to say the least. After a quick drive to downtown Portland, Stumptown coffee in our hands and a 4 block walk to Mars Hill Portland’s new home, the CASTLE, we found ourselves one of many in the pews. It was the first official gathering at the new campus and it was apparent by that mornings attendance that the church was birthed according to a need in the city.

The sermon was 95% straight scripture, 5% relevant stories, which is something I find all too rare in the church today. The pastor spoke of the mission, distinctively ours. He made reference to his past teachings on how we all have this core need to find our identity (wherever that might be), which is surround by our worship, community and mission. He related this not only to finding our identity in Christ, but careers, etc. He hit the nail on the head with many of us Christians in the room when he proposed that many of us find ourselves engaged in finding our identity in Christ and focused on worship and community, but we severely lack the mission (i.e. telling others about Christ, serving, meeting needs, etc). The sermon was good, relevant and finished off with communion which brought it full circle to who and what this was really about; Jesus.

As we gathered our things and headed for the doors, I don’t think any of us realized how quickly we would be approached with LIVING out what the sermon just provoked us with. When the doors of the church opened, there stood before us, a group of about 15-20 masked protestors holding banners, blow horns and attempting to synchronize their chants. To be completely honest, when the doors opened, a big grin took over my face because I thought a group of Mars Hill volunteers were about to put on a Flashmob in honor of their first service. Man was I wrong! “Shame on you bigots, shame on you homophobes, you’re going to hell!” I was kind of in awe. As we headed down the stairs to the streets which led to our cars, a scantily clad girl (about my age) with a whip in her hand got in our faces to make sure we heard, that in fact, we were going to hell. The road signs for Mars Hill were graffitied with slander from the protestors and we walked away without a word uttered. For me, the silence was not the lack of response, but that of heartache.

One of the pastors action points to his sermon, was that part of our mission was to understand the city. As much as I didn’t see the “effectiveness” of the protestors by standing up for what they believe in, yet covering their faces. As much as I was angered by the fact that the children of Mars Hill were filled with fear by their tactics. As much as I was exposed to a glimpse of what most of the world experiences by serving God and how I have taken the freedom that I have to serve Him without fear. Even more so, am I called to understand. While I stand on the scriptures and hold true to them, I do hear the message in their abrasive chants. Who are we to judge? This is the question where many Christians, puff their chest, shake their heads and answer, “we’re not judging, God is”. How effective is that? And honestly, what benefit does that provide? And if most of us took some time to really self reflect, we might notice that maybe some of the rash answers we give (especially out of defense) are birthed out of the heart of judgement and not of love.

Stop telling me how to live MY life! I heard that demand engulfed in the slander that Sunday morning. I get how many people across the nations could feel that way and to be honest, some of them have experienced just that; christians telling others how to live. Don’t get me wrong, the scriptures are not just “suggestions” on how to live or “ideas” on how the many ways to get to heaven and I fully stand on the truth that the path to heaven is one way and through Christ, it’s just all the other additives that we sometimes feel righteous enough to nail to it. If Christians (myself included) really felt the humility in the reality that we are ALL sinners saved by grace, how different would we approach the mission?

I don’t know, maybe I just stepped onto one of my many soap boxes and while I’m sure that those protestors were mainly looking for a response (which they got, via social media and the news), something has began to stir inside of me. Something good, something that has made me realize that the stirring in my heart that was always very present in my life, had been missing for a while and I guess I got too preoccupied with life and myself to realize that it was on hiatus…