"May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ."
Empty. Tired. Fat. Lazy. Unfocused. All of these words I use to describe the Western Church of the United States. Hold on, though. If you think this is going to be another rant on how awful the church is, please bare with me. I assure you, it is not. Rather, I am coming before all of those who spend their time ranting. Enough! Stop talking about how self-centered we are as a church! Stop complaining about the lack of movement in the church body! Stop and go.
Go where? Go outside of the ivory walls, outside of the stain glassed windows, outside of the comfortable life. Bring a basin of water and a rag and kneel. Wash the feet of the homeless man begging for money. Touch the prostitute in a way she has yet to be touched. Go into Bridgeport, Jasper, Fort Wayne, Fort Worth, Kansas City, Omaha, Louisville, Clear Water, Orlando. Just go and seek out those who do not know Him! Church, rise up and follow the One you claim as your Savior!
Take a look at Christ's life. You've heard this a million times-who did He spend time with? Those who were "dirty" in society. Recently, in New Orleans, during one of his last evangelical services, Billy Graham called all those in attendance to march with him to Bourbon street- a place plagued with strip clubs, bars, and gambling. And they did...16,000 people followed this man to Bourbon Street, singing the praise of the Lamb. The writer said, " Within 30 minutes the entirety of Bourbon Street was packed with Christians and the once blaring music of nightclubs and strip joints had been replaced by weeping and worship as people poured out their drinks and soughtprayerfrom the Christians who were now reaching out to them."
A loved friend of mine just returned from a trip to Africa. He was talking about how receiving these people were. The churches did not worry about membership, or even whether or not they had a building. One in particular had about 90 attendees. Less than half were members and less than half of the non-members were actually Christians. Yet 90 came each week, seeking fulfillment. Contrast that with our churches here. No, membership does not really matter, but more importantly, the REACHING OUT is what does! We hear sermons constantly, making us aware of our flawed sinful nature, but what do we do?!?! Paul says we are not saved by works, and praise the Lord for that! However, he does not condone a dead faith. We can believe and talk about God all we want, but unless we LOVE, it all means nothing.
So what do you do? First, pray that God breaks you, so that you can see His needs and His heart for your town. Then, as a church (individually), talk to a homeless shelter in your community, a halfway house, a chaplain of a jail, a teen pregnancy counseling organization or whatever else there may be. FIND OUT where people are who are not being reached. Find a specific need and as a church MEET that need. Connecticut, call Bridgeport Rescue Mission. Texas, call Longview Homeless Shelter, Montana-check out New Hope Pregnancy Support Center, New York- check out educationnewyork.com. Looking up those names took me all of 2 minutes on the internet.
I cannot tell you how many people I know who relinquish their responsibility of this because they have been wounded by people within the church. I sympathize for your hurt. People, Christ has been persecuted by His own people for THOUSANDS of years, yet He still pursues us, still loves us, still wants us to live in Him. How much more should we pursue Him? We are promised that we will be persecuted for His namesake and see evil in humanity. Christ toppled over tables when He saw evil in His house. Imagine the passive message He would have sent if He just turned from the temple and gave up? No, He became righteously angry and toppled the tables! Are you willing to topple tables?
Start moving, American Church. We are called to serve as Christ served and love as Christ loved. We are to humble ourselves and get out of our comfort zones. It is not about being comfortable, dressing nice, and singing happy songs and then going about our lives. We MUST get off our behinds, learn His word, proclaim it in word and action, and serve!
As our King said..."And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them inthe name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)