I did some shopping alone today, which is a rarity for me these days. I usually have my sidekick along for the ride. But today I stopped to look around on my way home from work, so I had the pleasure of browsing uninterrupted. I'm always amazed at what I see and hear in stores. Today was no different.
A mother and her teenage daughter argued about the price of a dress, the mother not budging despite the daughter's assurance to her that "my life is now over because I'm the only one in the whole freakin' school that won't have a dress like this". (Kudos to mom for not giving in!)
A young wife talked to her husband on the phone, explaining to him that if they could just "get that house then our life would be perfect".
The sales lady was telling her co-worker that "once I get my schooling done, then I'll be ok and life will be better".
We hear it all around us, declarations of this and that which we believe will make us happy, make our life count for something. We buy into the lies that if we don't have that perfect car, house, job, bank account, dress, shoes, children, spouse, Apple gadget, whatever.. that our lives don't matter. We believe the lies that society tells us- that without the latest craze in our lives, we just will never be memorable. We will have nothing that lasts without ___________(fill in the blank).
It's just not true, y'all. You see all of those things will rot away, go away, be taken away. What I kept hearing God whisper in my ear today as I listened to people around me was this, "Only my Church will remain".
The Church, the Body of Christ, is here to stay. When our bank accounts are empty, our houses have fallen down, our clothes have rotted away or no longer fit, when America or the whole world doesn't even exist anymore...The Body of Christ will still remain. God ordained it that way. The Church will still be the radiant Bride of Christ, His creation to spread His good news.
So, what do we do with that? What do we do with this beautiful calling He has given us, to BE THE CHURCH? Well, I believe it starts by loving the church. If we who are the Church can't love one another, then how can we ever love others? I'll be honest, some of the most difficult people in my life to love are among the Church. And if we are painfully honest, some of the Church are the reason that those who are unchurched don't want to be a part. If we love God, we MUST love the church. The Word tells us to" Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ." (Galatians 6:2) It's hard to bear each other's burdens when we're arguing over petty things like style of worship and what we wear. Let's start loving the Church by loving it's people sincerely with our actions.
Second, I think we have to love the calling of the Church. We are the Bride of Christ. "Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago." (Ephesians 2:9-10) And what are those things He planned for us? Well, for starters, it's this: "Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20) It's hard to make disciples when we stay inside the walls of our church buildings and never get to know those around us. Jesus said to "go". Maybe that means go across the street. Maybe it means go across the ocean. Maybe it means go across the living room floor. I don't know what it means for you, but I do know we have to go.
Finally, I think we have to love those who are not a part of the Church. Really, this is a part of loving the calling of the Church. If we are ever to be like Jesus, that HAS to be our goal. And y'all, this doesn't mean just to love those outside the Church that look and act and dress and talk like us. It's not just a call to love all the iPhone users or the "cool" kids. It's not about just loving those who are nice and, quite frankly, easy to love. I'm talking about REAL LOVE... serving those who are our complete opposites, sacrificing for those who don't look or act like us. I'm talking about spending time with people whose lives are nowhere near our own, people who have a different set of standards and different goals in life than us. I'm talking about people who don't live next door, perhaps don't even live in this country. And I'll remind us all that love is an action word, something we DO, not just a word we say. Jesus met the needs of people. Jesus developed meaningful relationships with those who were not a part of the Church. He intentionally went out of His way to do this. And if we really love His Church like we should, we will do that too because those people need the Church too. And shame on us if we aren't taking it to them.
It's fun to get new things. There is nothing wrong with having things, so please don't hear me say that in this post. But we, the Church of Jesus Christ, have to understand that our "things" can never hold a candle to our God. We possess the solution to every need this world will ever have. The Church will remain forevermore. Let's make sure that those around us are a part.
In other words, let's BE the Church today.