There are hundreds of thousands of ‘churches’ in our country- ranging from old time fire and brimstone to liberal everything goes because Jesus loves and tolerates all…
I’ve been to a range of them over the past 20 years or so. Some have more commandments than God’s original 10, where the people can’t keep the 10, but expect them to follow the additional hundreds. Some are nothing more than social cliques and a great place to network for business and enterprise, but have very little thought about God except maybe that Jesus wants us to be successful and live our best lives now.
Still others, were good churches, preaching from the Bible, with thoughtful messages every Sunday- yet looking around I couldn’t help but wonder, what if a prostitute from the bad side of town showed up? Or a drunk man? A homeless person or someone just out of prison? Would they be accepted or ‘acceptable’ enough to grace the inside of the building?
One of my favorite passages has always been Matthew 25:33-40
Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
I am so far from perfect and often not even a good Christian when it comes to loving strangers. Oh, maybe when it doesn’t involve face to face anyway. I still get angry too much, argumentative, grumble sometimes when I do the right thing because it’d be easier just to not do it at all…. but I’ve always considered the words to those verses and tried to do for others who have fallen into rough spots or who have it harder than I do.
I think that’s why I love the church I’ve been led to so much. Not only does our pastor preach from the Bible, he and others there live out the teaching in tangible ways. They reach out to our community with Christ’s love, but also the Gospel message of sin and redemption which is missing in many other ‘do good’ type social justice denominations.
We welcome people who don’t look like us… you know, ‘proper’ for church. Tattoos, piercings, torn jeans… if the heart is seeking, we don’t care what you look like on the outside.
I found this movie earlier this week. It’s kind of rough, has some mild language and situations in it, but it’s also pretty real to life of those who have hit rock bottom. The story is based on an actual church in Leesburg, Florida, and while it may seem boring in some places, and not hollywoodish, it really is an excellent movie- especially if you watch right to the end.
I have had this song on my mind for months now…
We can’t necessarily change the denominations in our country, but by allowing Jesus to change us, His church will make more difference in our country than the denominations have ever made.
I hope everyone has a blessed Sunday.