In Grace and Truth
"As for these things that you see, the days will come when not one stone will be left upon another; all will be thrown down.”
November 11, 2022, Words By: Gideon Ochieng, Image By: Unknown
Beginning in August of this year, CTM Kenya shifted its base to another community called Kawangware. There, we have a cohort of 75 leaders who are learning, in community, what it means to bear witness to good news in hard places. There, they are practicing incarnational leadership by serving in some of the most challenging spaces in our city. They are also working on their own formation. Many must battle the temptation to establish their own empires in the name of Christ. For some of these leaders, having a huge and magnificent building is the ultimate mark of success; it represents the blessing and approval of God. In reality, the four walls of a church often just become a platform to display our acts of righteousness before humanity disguised as God.
Luke 21 opens with a picture of Jesus at the temple. He watches as everyone puts up their best show as they give their offerings. But Jesus sees beyond the facade. In a moment, he is able to distinguish, not so much by the amount they give, but by the attitude they came in with as they render their worship through an offering. “He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. ‘Truly I tell you,’ he said, ‘this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.’”
In our context, the worship spaces in our city are some of the most unequal spaces in the metro area. Some go to church in hopes of finding solace in the company of fellow believers; they are often disappointed. But for others, church is a place to show off their wealth. The buildings themselves have either become symbols of power or of struggle. It all depends on their location in the city. However, one truth that seems to elude many, and is beautifully captured in this statement is that “Even the finest religious buildings have no value unless people faithfully do God’s will” (Donavan, 2004).
How can we tell the difference between those who are serving their own god and the ones who are serving Christ and his kingdom? John reminds us that, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” If in following Christ we are willing to dwell with one another, and to extend to one another the same grace and share the truth we have received from Christ, then and only then can we claim to be followers of Christ. Only then can we be confident that whatever we are building will stand the test of time.
Jesus tells his disciples “As for these things that you see, the days will come when not one stone will be left upon another; all will be thrown down.” That is not just the temple, but everything: the burdens we have placed on others in the name of Christ, the religious ceremonies he did not sanction, every stone that was coerced into building a kingdom that is against Christ will eventually be thrown down.
Dwelling Among Us
How does a Gospel of peace unmask and unveil the violence of humanity? What does it mean to “endure” the reality of this without fear and “testify” to God’s goodness as things fall apart?