Something hit me recently like a ton of bricks - the Christian church today isn't really as Christian as it should be. And by Christian, of course, I mean "Christ like".
And why do I think this?
Many reasons really, but it has been reinforced by a recent event within our own church and by a couple of Bible verses that just wouldn't leave my mind these last few weeks:
Just a couple of weeks ago, a homeless, penniless foreign man came to our church recently after the evening service. He was Romanian and therefore not entitled to aid from the Government here. He had been sleeping rough in some of the local parks in Belfast as even the Salvation Army emergency shelter could not offer him a bed anymore. After quite a few 'dead ends' we were eventually able to get him home to Romania. OK, maybe we did the right thing this time, but how many other desperate, needy, lonely and sick people have we overlooked over the years? (See James 2:15-16).
Each Sunday we gather to worship the God who commands us to "love our neighbour as ourselves." (Matt 22:39). We sing praises to the God who tells us that "pure and undefiled religion is caring for widows and orphans in their distress." (James 1:27). We pray before an Almighty God who describes Himself as loving, gracious and merciful. Then, we all walk out of the church, step back into a needy world and proceed to withhold the love, grace, and mercy that's extended so freely to us. Simply put, we fall short! We are failing to be like the One we are to follow! Instead of being the Church, the visible body of Christ in the world, we are only 'playing church'. We then end up being more irrelevant to the world and its problems with each passing day.
The Great Commission to the church is to "go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation". (Mark 16:15). Forgetting the uttermost parts of the world for a moment, what about the neighbourhood in which the local church is sited? Do the local people simply see us driving into the church car park once or twice a week? Then do we stay an hour in our fancy church building with its high fence designed to keep the unwanted out? Or do they see a group of Believers who genuinely care for the spiritual welfare of the people in our neighbourhood?
'Playing church' is such a waste of our God given talents. We are all gifted individually to serve the true church and those in our communities, thereby demonstrating Christ's love to a lost world. We should all want to be a part of a congregation whose mission is to show the love Jesus has to a hurting world.
Let us all try to be more like Jesus - compassionate, loving and caring to those who are most in need.
Take time to be holy, speak oft with Thy Lord;
Abide in Him always and feed on His Word;
Make friends of God's children, help those who are weak,
Forgetting in nothing His blessing to seek (Longstaff)
Are you SURE that you have your place booked in Heaven? Read this if you're not!