I recently had lunch with Steve Kimes, pastor at Anawim Christian Community. Anawim is Hebrew meaning “the poor people who are going to be blessed because they depend on God.” They’re a community church of the homeless and mentally ill (not one of popular demographics for American Christians to hang out with). To clarify – I don’t mean they give annual donations to the mentally ill…and I don’t mean they visit the homeless once a month…I mean they actually are a community made up of the homeless and mentally ill. They actually are homeless and mentally ill. What’s amazing is Steve Kimes looked for churches that would welcome these people – and he realized they’re…well, not really welcome.
Not welcome? Not welcome at church? Not really surprising I guess. People without homes and unstable mental capabilities don’t really work in our “contemporary” church services. Branding and service-flow has become so important – the truly needy don’t really fit in.
So Steve decided to create a church for and made up of the homeless and mentally ill. The sad part he says…nobody else really comes. I’m not sure what’s a bigger tragedy, the fact that nobody “normal” belongs to their community or the fact that the needy aren’t welcome anywhere else?
I went to lunch with Steve because my world’s being turned upside down. His entire life looked different than mine. I’ve been a “Christian” since I was 14…but my life really hasn’t looked that different than most everyone else’s. Why is it that Jesus’ life look enormously different than the worlds…but modern (American) Christians lives really don’t? Things aren’t adding up. I’m too comfortable. American Christianity is too easy – at least what I’ve known as Christianity. A great test that I’ve recently asked myself is “If you turned the sound of your life off, would it look any different than everybody else’s?” It’s the answer to this question that is causing my life to be turned upside down.
Christ called us to be set apart from the world. Not just on the inside…but on the outside too. Every part of Christ’s life confounded everyone around Him. His life looked extremely different than the worlds. Why do we think our lives should be any different? If my insides (spirit) has been transformed…how can it not effect my outside?
The Tension: The inward must effect the outward. You cannot have one without the other.