It’s not about checking a box on the “Christian to-do list.”
It’s not about enduring the great suffering of waking up early to show Jesus you love Him. (seriously, it’s not that early or that bad…we are willing to do far more for far less important things in life.)
It’s not about being seen by others in the community to let them know that you are a good person.
It’s not about showing up because grandma told you to.
It’s not about a lot of the things we make it about.
The reason for the church, the Body of Christ not the brick and mortar building, can be summed up in one word: RELATIONSHIP.
The reason for the church is to have a community of openness and realness, where hurting, struggling people can come together in relationship and suffer together, help one another, and point one another to Christ. Jeff Bethke describes it this way: “the church is not a museum of good people; it’s a hospital for the broken.” The church should be active, towards its members, the community, and the world, because there is brokenness all around.
The purpose for the church is to provide an atmosphere where we can grow in our relationship with our Savior, while surrounded and encouraged by other believers.
The mission of the church is relationship building; finding ways to reach the lost, in all nations, and in all backyards. The church, the Body of Christ, must live as Jesus in order to reach the dying, desperate people of this world that are looking for something to save them, but don’t know where to turn.
It’s all about relationship; reaching in and reaching out.
Sure, there are a ton of aspects that stem from these relationships I’ve described, but at the center of it all, is a raggedy guy named Jesus. At the center of it all is a guy that looked rough, lived perfectly, loved the lonely and forgotten, and gave Himself for each and every person on this earth. He loves the mentally ill, the addict, the thief, the murderer, the cheater, the wealthy, the middle class, children and the gray headed, orphans and widows…His grace is available to all who will receive Him.
That’s why we have the church. That’s why we have true community as the Body of Christ. It’s because we have salvation through the grace that has been offered to us. And that is why we live differently.
I recently started (and finished) a book titled Under the Overpass. In it, some Christian homeless men took notice of the treatment they received from various churches while they were seeking assistance. There were some pages that were difficult to read. One Saturday night these two men slept on the front steps of a small church. What woke them the next morning was not a smiling face inviting them to service or asking if they wanted some warm breakfast or coffee. No one woke them to see if they were hungry or had any needs that could be met. In fact, no one woke them at all; every person intentionally avoided them. They woke to the service going on in the sanctuary, just beyond the steps.
Another church actually ran them off. At another, they were greeted by some members of the church. After talking for a few minutes, the two homeless men were informed that they would be prayed for, while what they really needed were some new flip flops or shoes, and a warm meal. They needed someone to take an action on their behalf.
The church is about meeting needs. It is often about the physical needs of members or strangers, but even greater, the church is about meeting spiritual needs…the greatest need that every human heart has: the need for a Savior, the need for Jesus. #LETMEINTRODUCEYOU
I am so grateful to be a part of a church community, not defined by the building that they meet in or the rules they have set, but by the Savior that they serve.
I rest assured that if someone shows up at the steps to the door at a church I attend, they will be welcomed. I am thankful for the invitation I am able to extend to others, knowing that if I bring someone to church, they will be met warmly.
The character of the church should match the character of Christ.
I try to reach out to those around me. The hard truth is this…the person that needs you to reach out to them just might have a home, a warm bed, and food to eat. They may attend church. They may have a family and even some semi-awesome friends. They may be in similar circumstances to you, only holding in struggles when their desire is to cry out. Be there to listen and to help, however possible. Maybe that person is you; cry out. Avoid making the judgement call that someone doesn’t need help based on what you can see. People can have every physical amenity that is available, and still be missing a Savior. Be willing to act when the opportunity is there, and be an opportunity maker.
Reach out with a welcoming handshake to a person you don’t know the next time you are at church. Take a leap of faith and ask someone their name. Be bold, you have a bold Spirit living within you. I did that and met an awesome new friend named Gene.
Reach out to someone in your school or in the community. Have an ear that listens, a heart that acts on its convictions, and a boldness that represents Jesus.
I don’t want to spend my life wanting to share the love of Jesus. I want to spend my life sharing the love of Jesus. That is what the church is made for. That should be the longing of the hearts of those that make up the church. Relationships start with introductions.
In that book I was talking about, there were some young guys from one of the churches that understood what Jesus was talking about in Matthew 25. They gave the homeless guys some food and got together a small pile of money to provide for some bus fares. They also invited the homeless guys back for another service. They gave them showers and let them wash clothes. They made them friends. They were living out the love of Jesus.
It’s really not complex, extremely theological or philosophical; it’s straightforward. Take it to heart, it’s in the Bible for a reason.
What you do for the least of these, you’ve done for the King.