Church. This is where my heart has been lately. It has consumed many hours of thought, conversation, and prayer. And, can I be real with you? I love Jesus, but so many times I just don’t love “church”. Why is this?
I share the Gospel with people fairly often and so many times when I ask them their story, they’ve been hurt by “church”. “Church” is the reason they want nothing to do with Jesus. “Church” judged them, “Church” made them feel unwanted, “Church” threw the rocks at them because of the sin in their life, and “Church” didn’t help them when they reached out for help. And quite honestly, this BREAKS my heart. Story after story of:
“God doesn’t want me. My sin is too extreme. The Church told me so”.
So, I go back to scripture and beg of Jesus for the sake of this lost person, and He gently reminds me of His truths:
7 When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. 9 At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”11 “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”-John 8:7-11
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ –Matthew 25:40
The Least of These.
Oh, how God loves the least of these. What does this look like? It looks like single moms, widows, orphans, poor people, older people, and anyone else that society tends to look down on. So why does the Church not love the least of these? Why are there countless stories about “the Church” driving people away from the love of Christ?
It’s because the Church has it all wrong, right? Wrong. It’s because we are ALL sinners. “For ALL have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23 WE are all sinners, friend. And this is why we desperately NEED time with God and His mercies that are new each morning. It’s easy to blame the Church, but if you, like me, are a Christ follower, church starts with us.
And without Christ, I am ugly. Without Christ, I do not notice the single mom struggling to get her child to sit quietly in the pew; I’m just annoyed he randomly kicks my seat. Without Christ, I do not go out of my way to talk to the silent widow that lives next door because I don’t even notice her. Without Christ, I don’t ask to pray for the young girl crying in the bathroom because I’m just thinking she’s being a little too dramatic. Without Jesus DAILY, I am UGLY!
Oh but WITH Jesus daily, my world (His world) looks so very different. With Christ, I notice the single mom in church and ask to pray for her. Through this prayer and sharing some of our stories, the Lord provides ways to reach out to her family, and ultimately He blesses me with another family of my own. How beautiful! With Christ, I do talk to the silent widow that lives next door and am able to share Christ with her over dinner. Then, she begins coming to me for prayer and asking questions about the Lord. With Christ, I pray and cry with that young girl in the bathroom after finding out that she just lost her mom to cancer. It may not be much, but one single YES to allowing God to work in our lives can slightly or drastically bless someone else’s. This is why it is SO important that we begin our days with a YES to spending time with God and allowing Him to live through us.
Without Him, I am ugly, and I’m willing to bet you are too. I don’t have any, much less all of, the answers for the American Church. But one thing I do know is the Church starts with me, and my DAILY “Yes” to God affects His Church and bringing Him glory.
Are you ugly without Christ daily? Are you willing to start your days with a “Yes” to Christ?