The Church in da Hood
The Church in the Hood and the “Great Violation”
“Here (in Christ) there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian Scythian, slave or free (and we might add, no Latin Kings or Maniac Latin Disciples, no Vice Lords or Gangster Disciples, no Folks and no People), but Christ is all, and is in all.”
When God saves us, he does not intend for us to then get all warm and cozy in the confines of a four-walled building. The local church is the “hope of the world,” but not if its people settle themselves behind its walls and forget those left behind in the streets. The church is the people in action and the ”Church in the Hood” is the people of the hood retrieving those left in the streets of the hood. It’s G’s remembering G’s. It’s G’s for Jesus building the G’sus Nation in anticipation of Jesus’ return. We are saved to serve. As Paul the apostle writes in Ephesians 2:8-10:,
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
What does that mean for those who come to Christ in the Hood? In the first place, it means you are brought to salvation for a purpose and that purpose is not a nice fun-filled life of ease and privilege. Ask the early followers of Jesus who were killed by the scores as they went into their hood and proclaimed the salvation of Christ. Can we expect any more than what they experienced? You are bought with a price and that price is the” Great Violation” of Jesus on the cross.
You all know what a violation is. It’s the beating of an individual to ascertain his/her worthiness, either for getting into, or for getting out of a set. Jesus had to undergo a violation in order to secure his position as the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. It secured, however, not only his position as the ultimate judge of mankind, but opened up the Almighty Heaven Set for you and I. It’s the violation you and I deserved but were spared from because Jesus stepped up and took it for us. If he had not taken that violation, there would be no way that any of us could have earned our way into the Almighty Heaven Set. We could not be beaten long enough and we could not do nearly enough of anything to get in. We were just not good enough, tough enough, or strong enough to earn a spot in heaven. Jesus changed all that when he took on that violation for everything bad that you and I have done (and we both know that there is a lot of that in our lives).
You know that when someone is violated out of a set, members turn their back on that individual and he is basically dead to them. When Jesus took on himself all of our wrongdoings, God turned his back on Jesus for a moment while Jesus was tortured and violated for you and me. Yet, because of his sinless life, God raised him from the dead to become the master of all in recognition of his victory on the cross. This is the story of real power, and that same power that raised Jesus from the dead is available to help you change and live a new more meaningful life. So, when you see the picture or the statue of a torn, battered Jesus nailed to a cross, look a little closer and you should see visions of yourself, battered and bruised on that cross. That’s the violation that YOU and I deserved, but Jesus, who had done no wrong and possessed no sin, came from his throne in Heaven to take on that suffering so that we could be brought into His set. It’s not because of who you are or what you’ve done, but simply because he loves you as his creation. It’s a matter of God’s grace, or his undeserved love, that you have been admitted.
In the second place, this verse means that God saved us from the ultimate violation of eternal suffering and separation from Christ so that we would share the miraculous pathway into the Almighty Heaven Set with others. He wants us to be out in the Hood, making our presence felt in a positive way, so that others might join us in this set. These are things that God has planned for you to do from before the earth was created, things that only you can do, so get with it. That action may manifest itself in many different ways, but will ultimately include taking the message that saved you to others in your hood, as well as those in other hoods, because if you don’t tell them, who will? Nothing fancy about it. You’re just telling them your story and how Jesus made a difference in your life. God’s spirit will do the rest.
Thirdly, sharing in the hood is not an easy thing to do. As I mentioned earlier, becoming a Christian doesn’t buy you a ticket to the cushy land of good life. Rather, it takes you to a life of challenge, sacrifice, and maybe even death. Being a Christian is not a cushy separatist lifestyle where everything is neat and every experience comes up smelling like a rose. It’s a down to earth get dirty job that someone has to do. If you’re living the cushy “churchstyle” life, you may not be walking the true Christian walk that Jesus described when he said “take up your cross and follow me.” In the streets you talk about a “smile now cry later” kind of life, but as a Christian it should be a “cry now, smile later” life where the “later” is an eternity with Jesus in heaven. Life is not about “feeling good” but about service and sacrifice. The” now” is doing the dirty work, getting down to the nitty-gritty of life and making a difference in the streets where it’s not so nice, not so clean, and not very cushy. That’s where Jesus went and that’s where we should follow. Take the story of your experience with Jesus to other Kings, to other Disciples, to the Stones, to the Lynch Mob, to the Albany Orchestra, and, in fact, to anyone else who has ears. In short, that’s what Jesus asks you to do.
So the next time you read about or are involved in a gang violation, remember Christ and the cross and what that violation means to you. That was the Mother of all Violations and it opened the door to heaven for you and me. It actually opened the doors to the “Church in the Hood.” That church is not in a building or bound be four walls. It’s not a cushy place where people take refuge and hide from the world. Rather, it’s a community of people who understand the significance of what Jesus did for them and take that message to those both near and far, they take it to friends and they take it to those in opposition sets. God’s love is not bound by borders and boundaries, but transcends every hood and every set. The “Church in the Hood” represents the hands and feet of Jesus. It speaks on behalf of the risen Lord and loves with a passion that only God can give. YOU are the “Church in the Hood” and God asks you to go into that hood and be an example of what he can do in a G’s life. He asks you to stalk the streets and alleys of the hood in search of the lost and dying. He asks you to soothe the hurt of those in pain. He asks you to walk across the park to share Christ with the opposition before gang violence keeps him from the Kingdom of God. You need to remember that in Christ, when you join the “Church in the Hood,” there is no opposition because we are all brothers and sisters in Christ. We become ONE in Jesus. And because of that oneness, he wants you to follow him, wherever he may lead, even if it’s into opposition turf. You have a message to deliver, the message of God’s grace, the message of hope that you must now share with others who have no hope. Of course, its not easy, but in doing so, you will be building the “Church in the Hood” into the G’sus Nation and you will be preparing the way for Jesus to return and lay claim to all the Gs who have walked out of the hood and into Heaven. That’s a task worthy of eternity.
We believe that the local church is the Hope of the world,” but if you are not part of a local church and want to know what the Church in da Hood is all about, join us at Willow Creek Chicago. We meet in neutral territory at the Auditorium Theater. Its located on Wabash and Congress. We meet at 10 am each Sunday but come early for donuts and coffee. At 10 you’ll listen to some crazy music and hear the same message that Jesus gave way back in the day. That’s the message of hope, forgiveness, and power. He gave that message to the Gs of his day, the killas,da robbas,da tax evaders, and all dem prostitutes. They’re the ones that heard the message, found new life, and they’re the ones that changed the world. That’s what you can do too. Remember this, the church is just a collection of sinners. We ain’t saints. We all got our stories, so if you want to hear them, come, listen, and make an informed decision about how you’ll live the rest of your life. We’re waiting for you, but even better, God is standing there too, waiting for you with open arms. You’re important to us, but you’re even more important to God. So, join us, and if you come, be sure to ask for me so I know you’re there. And if you want us to come out and tell you more about this, please contact me to set up a time where you can begin to establish a local gathering for the Church in da Hood near you. In the meantime, check out this rap about somnething you know all too well:
Music: Gangstaz Pain by Preachas in the Hood: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t9hm84LZkts