You see, it is a dirty world out there. A messy world, complicated and perplexing, hemmed in on all sides by dilemmas, quandaries, questions and situations that nag and confuse. Sadly, many people see the church insulated from the dirt and grime of life, the hard things that challenge and perplex those who face the mean streets every day. Except for the many rescue missions and crisis life centers scattered in the urban areas, few churches are prepared to handle the mean streets.
You see, the cheap seats are cleaner, more distant from the ugly realities of life. They are also cheaper because they are far from the action, removed from the blood, sweat, and tears so visible and real at the intersections of life. It's just more sterile in the cheap seats. Up here, away from the action, we can apply the bromides of comfortable faith to anesthetize us from the pain of the mean streets. Cheap seats or mean streets, that is the question!
Today, Ron and I are discussing the prayer of Jesus in John 17. It will be an honest appraisal of the church of the cheap seats as opposed to the church Jesus prayed for. The church that Jesus is building is not segregated from the issues of life, heads turned from the troubles that are so obvious in our world. Instead, it is a people engaging that world. It is not easy. A fallen world is troubled.
Yet, Jesus said, "---I have overcome the world" (John 16:33). And he prayed, "Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you gave me before the creation of the world" (John 17:25).
It's the mean streets folks, not the cheap seats!