“You put your hands in. You put your hands out.
You put your hands in and you shake them all about!”
Informally, I have studied people in church life for 25 years. It still amazes me how people act when they come to faith in Jesus. It also amazes me what we teach people when they come to faith in Jesus. It is not secret that the church has her own culture, language, and habits. In essence, the Church is its own people group. Was this what Jesus had in mind?
When Jesus walked through the Jerusalem IRS office he stopped to talk to a man named Matthew. In visiting with him, the man got up and walked away with him. We notice later that Matthew hosts a party where he brings Jesus and his pagan friends into the same space.
We tend to teach new converts to walk AWAY FROM our old lives. We are to clear away all that old stuff to make way for all the new. The problem is Jesus did not do this. We teach new converts, informally, that the only friends they are supposed to have are in the church. They are to put both hands in.
Once we have alienated them their lost friends, who need Jesus, we retrain them to go do evangelism. We give them a script and tell them to repeat that to their lost friends until they run screaming into the night or into the arms of Jesus! They are to put both hands out.
However, they are not to spend too much time with those friends because they might develop “outside” relationships again and “fall away” from the church. They are to put both hands in and shake them all about.
The problem is Jesus did not do this! Matthew, at this party, had one hand out to his friends and one hand out to Jesus. This is the picture we see Jesus encouraging. If we put both hands in, or out, we turn our backs on the other. When we reach with one hand each way we are more closely aligned with the life and style of Jesus.