The Middle Class and the Downtrodden

When I read the gospels I see that Jesus had a remarkable ability to attract those who were outcast, rejected, despised and on the fringe.  That stood in stark contrast to groups such as the Pharisees who were so filled with pride and self-righteousness that they were the least likely companion of someone “sinful”.

That’s cool – I appreciate that Jesus was like that.

I try to be like that too, but I have a problem.  I am middle class.  In fact I am the very epitome of middle class.  I was brought up in a 3 bedroom brick home in suburban Sydney.  Dad worked in an office.  Mum worked in an office.  We had a Toyota.  And a cat.  If you looked up a dictionary for a definition of middle class then you would probably read “see John Warren”.

I have come to Christ and spend Sundays hanging out with his people.  At my church most of the people are middle class.  And when I say “most” what I mean is “almost all.”  Of course there is nothing wrong with being middle class.  That’s the life that God gave me.  Jesus died for middle class people just as much as anyone else.  Praise God that there are middle class people in Australia who have heard the message of Christ and joined his church.

But how does a middle class church go about attracting the outcast, the rejected, the despised?  Because people who are on the fringe generally don’t like hanging out with middle class people.  They don’t dislike them, they just don’t feel comfortable around them.  And when I am around someone who is on the fringe I generally struggle to know what to say.  I can have a conversation, but it is just not as smooth as with someone that I have so much more in common with.

One of the great things about the local church is that it brings people together who would otherwise never come across each other’s paths.  There is no doubt that a church which is faithfully preaching Christ can attract and hold people from a wide variety of backgrounds and mould them into a united, close, loving family.  God’s arm is not too short to reach out to a wide variety of people.  His Spirit is not too weak to transform their lives together.  He can do it.

That is true but I have never really seen it.  I guess it is part of living in a large city (which is what I have done my whole life) – there are so many different churches and everyone finds one where they feel comfortable.  It is a good thing that there are lots of churches with different personalities close to each other, as I argued in this post here.  That usually results in the middle class going to churches a, b and c, and those on the fringe going to church x, y and z.  Maybe in a small town it might be different.

Over to you – how does a middle class church attract the poor and the marginalised?

John

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