“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” – John 3:17
For over 2000 years the church has stood as symbol of the world’s great light, Jesus Christ. I love the church, we are the hope of the world. I agree, that sometimes, the church has done more harm than good. But even in those times, I have to believe the Spirit of God was still at work within us, using us and molding us into vessels that He could use to reach the least and the lost.
I consider the great saints, from the Apostles all the way down to Mother Theresa, and all those in between. Immeasurable numbers of faithful souls throughout the ages, all having one thing in common – a love for Jesus and a love for people. To be counted among the followers that have made a huge difference (Martin Luther, St. Francis, Dietrich Bonhoeffer) and those whose names we do not remember, martyred for the sake of Christ – what a humbling heritage and legacy.
Sometimes I forget what the church is all about. It is pretty easy in my mind to make it about what I want it to be. I am a church program director. Sometimes I get so focused on my own agenda that I forget that Christ has an agenda already laid out for us. It has been the same since He left us from the top of that mountain, and it will be the same when He returns to gather us all together. The church exists for this one purpose only – to share His gospel and introduce people to Him. That is it. Nothing more.
How we do that can take on so many different forms – feeding, clothing, providing medical care, great music, beautiful art, powerful preaching… the list goes on forever. But at the heart of our activities must be a love for Christ and His people.
I am a little disturbed by the seemingly “christian” messages I am seeing in the world today. For example, with Christmas coming, I saw the other day a beautifully decorated wall hanging that read, “Wise men still seek Him.” What a lovely sentiment. A sweet picture of three men on camels bringing sparkling gifts to the baby, the promised Messiah. It conjures up all sorts of warm thoughts about what Christmas is all about doesn’t it?
But upon deeper reflection, I see that this particular platitude isn’t right at all. In fact, it is so far off the mark that I am offended. It’s not just the “wise, church folks” that still seek Him. The entire world is seeking Him. The lost and discouraged, and hurting world is seeking what only He can give – peace, unconditional love, complete acceptance, relief.
The only problem is, many of those that need Him the most are seeking in the wrong places. They don’t know that it Jesus Christ that can change their circumstances and their lives. So they look in so many other places, situations devoid of Jesus and the healing He offers. Why do they do that? How come they don’t know where to go? Could it be our witness? Could it be that we have been so focused on our own needs and making ourselves feel good about our Savior that we have forgotten to share Him with the world? Have our sanctuaries, which should stand as a beacon of hope, become nothing more than members only clubs shouting the imposing message, “Only the righteous welcomed here?”
Christmas is coming brothers and sisters, a time when we all rejoice over a Lord that came into the world to save us. Prayerfully consider what would happen if we each shared this wonderful gift with one other person. What would happen if we took our heritage and place in history seriously and each invited one person to church during the holiday season? What would happen if we didn’t think so much about what we want for Christmas, and instead, tried to give Jesus what He wants for Christmas, one more saved soul?
I love the church. And my prayer today is that we would begin to take seriously our call and mission.