I was recently asked to give an answer to the question, “Why am I a Nazarene?”
If I am honest, part of why I am a Nazarene is my pedigree. Both my grandparents were Nazarene ministers at some point in their life. My dad was a Nazarene youth pastor. In other words, if I would have ended up as something else, someone had failed miserably…
But there comes a point in a person’s life when he has to own his faith. I was in my 20s when I fell in love with Nazarene theology. It was because of our “Theology of Love” that I fell in love with the church that I was born into.
We believe that God is a God of Love and God extends that love to EVERYONE. We aren’t predetermined, we have a choice. Real love always includes a choice to love and be loved.
But more than that, we believe the love God does more than just cover up our sin, we believe this Love of God transforms us into the image of Christ.
What that says to me is that NO ONE is beyond the transforming Love of God. Even the person who is most hostile to religion. The gospel is good news to everyone. There is hope for all of us. None of us is too far gone. Jesus modeled this when he walked upon the earth. He went to people that others had given up on. He was accused of eating with tax collectors and sinners. Everywhere Jesus went, his transforming love changed people. From religious leaders like Nicodemus to tax collectors, adulterers, and lepers.
What I love about my church is that even in its inception the goal was to make “outsiders” into “insiders”. The buildings were plain because we wanted to poorest of the poor to feel at home. In choosing the name Nazarene, we were identifying with those who have been given up on. Nathaniel asked Jesus, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” (John 1:46) To be a Nazarene was to be an outcast. We are the church for the outcasts.
When we are honest with ourselves, we are all outcasts at some point. We all are the woman caught in the act of adultery. We all are the tax collector. We all are the Pharisee. In short, we all long for and need an encounter with the transforming Love of God that is found in Christ Jesus and born in our heart by the Holy Spirit.
Honestly, at times our church has gotten away from our identity. But what organization hasn’t? What I am encouraged by is the fact that all across the North American Church I see churches that are getting back to our roots.
Why am I a Nazarene?
Because I believe in the transforming Love of God, that brings hope to places that are hopeless. There is no place that is too far gone. God specializes in making something beautiful out of “Nazarenes” like you and me.
Just a thought,