Because we put so much emphasis on grace, and the freedom to work out brokenness and sin in the community of the broken and sinful deeply loved by God, some people might think we have a low view of holiness ... an "anything goes and it ain't nobody's business if it does" worldliness.
We see being a Jesus-follower as a totality, all of one's life surrendered to him for his use and glory. In the process of learning to let go and trust him to be Lord over our lives: we stumble, get wounded, blow hot and cold, work through fears, losses and confusion; deal with the pain of our own and others sin, labor under life's pressures and stresses of work, family, and finances; struggle to live the spiritual disciplines with some semblance of maturity, and pursue the missional life from the heart. All of us realize we wrestle with sin. Sometimes it can be serious.
It's just we don't have a "1 whopper-sin and you're out," rule. Christians are well-known by non-believers for "shooting their chronically wounded." Some can be very mean-spirited, but always with a smile. We deeply deplore legalism, and hyper-religious Pharisaism because spiritual pride can rot a church from the inside like cancer, all the while appearing proper. Christians can and do flirt all too easily with "I'd never do that," arrogance. Our gossip can be drenched with a blind self-righteousness more than we'd ever to admit. In some communities of faith, they've lost most of what it means to be a gracious, kind, compassionate and forgiving Church of Jesus Christ. They've become something unrecognizable as such.
You see, I've worked with the Christian wounded and spiritually abused for a long time. I've seen the fear, pain, sorrow, and bewilderment on the faces and in the hearts of folks who got viciously beat up and shunned by brethren who held their heads high while throwing stones. Many of the victims quit the church; some leave Christianity all together. They found themselves on the hurting side of hypocrisy and blindness.
The truth is imagine/Northampton is just little band of "we're working on it"
broken, but loved folks who seek to follow Jesus in his missional Kingdom work all around us. We've worked hard to create that atmosphere.
It hasn't been easy, and we don't always get it right, but it's not from
want of trying, and then trying again. As a result, people say there is a tangible
feeling of love in our life together.
Man, I hope that never leaves.