I was on my way to work this morning and noticed a man coming toward me on the sidewalk. He walked with a slow gate and was limping a bit. As I looked closer, I saw a brace on his left leg. It seems he had a knee injury. As we greeted one another, I was reminded of the number of (what I call) the “walking wounded” in our churches today. Those who are grieving or hungry or unemployed or divorced or have been chastised by some well meaning Christian…or…or…well…you get my point.
I couldn’t help but wonder how many people in our church today are also limping through life, in a spiritual sense. So many people attend church and carry deep hurts and wounds and yet they feel they need to put on that happy perky Christian face so they appear to have (as they have been told by the church) “enough faith” or “a confident trust” or “true depth of Spirit.”
What a disservice we do as Christians when we ask how someone is (in church) and they respond with a curt “fine.” Yet, we never pay attention to how the Holy Spirit (the Spirit of Christ who is supposed to reside in Christians) may be prompting us to use our gift of mercy, or encouragement or discernment or better yet…the gift of healing!
Now some folks reading my comments here might think it’s time to buy me one of those white jackets with the sleeves that tie in the back. But quite frankly, I’m serious.
If Jesus is our model (if you are a professed Christian) then why is it that we have fallen so short in the church today, of following His ways? Why is it that we put on a happy, perky Christian “face” (façade) when the truth is…we may not be so happy? Why is it that so many of our fellow church members are willing to settle for woundedness? (ours AND perhaps theirs!) Is it because they don’t know how to deal with the wounds? Is it because they are trying to be politically correct and mind their own business? Is it because self pride tells them they don’t need God and they can handle their problems on their own?
My point is, if we are truly following the way of Christ and developing as disciples of Christ, then we should be using our gifts to help others. If we have been given (by God) the gift of mercy, shouldn’t we be giving a cup of coffee to a homeless person in our neighborhood ourselves instead of writing a check to a long distant mission a safe 6,000 miles away? (aka sanitized giving) If we have been given the gift of discernment and a heart for justice shouldn’t we be able to tell when corporations are cheating their investors and say something about it? Or are we so convinced that the little guy (or gal) can’t do anything about the BIG guy (corporate America) (The story of David and Goliath might be a good read right about now!) that we have somehow lost our courage to speak up when we see our own employers cheating or telling a lie?
I debated about quoting scripture in only my second blog entry, but the point is valid. Revelations 3:15 in reference to the Church in Laodicea says. “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm-neither hot nor cold-I am about to spit you out of my mouth.”
God’s point here is that He is not impressed with the lukewarm church…the church that doesn’t take a commitment to Christ seriously. What are we (each) willing to give up for the sake of Christ? There will come a time in the future, when we are asked to give up far more than we may realize for the sake of our faith. Are we ready for that task? Are we up for the challenge? Trust me, lukewarm won’t cut it during such times.
The Message Bible reference to this scripture states the point a bit more simply: “I know you inside and out, and find little to my liking. You’re not cold, you’re not hot-far better to be either cold or hot! You’re stagnant.”
Personally, I think it’s time for the church to move away from stagnant and seek the living water. It’s time for the church to find refreshment by welcoming the Holy Spirit into worship. When we count the number of minutes our services are supposed to last, or we make sure we don’t choose the wrong hymn because the wealthy church going doctor might not put as much in the offering plate (because he hates that song!)…we’re doing it wrong! We have, as church, missed the mark. We are wallowing in stagnant waters.
It took courage for Jesus to turn over the tables of the moneychangers in the temple. It most likely took courage for Jesus to ask the Samaritan woman for a drink of water (since Jews were to avoid Samaritans like the plague!)
If Jesus is our true model, isn’t it time to ramp up on the courage? It takes courage today to expose our wounds, to welcome the stranger, the divorced, the homeless, the destitute into our pretty pristine church buildings. It takes courage to tell our boss no when s/he asks us to falsify the data on a report. It takes courage to speak up for children who are being abused. The bottom line is, it takes courage to be a TRUE Christian!
It takes courage to admit that some folks who have never set foot in a church really have a greater anointing and show deeper love than many “Christians” warming the pews on Sundays. I’ve known (and experienced) so called “Christians” (see me making air quotes as I type this!) who (for the sake of the law of Christ) have inflicted far more wounds than offered healings…and that my friends, is not okay! (And yes, I include myself in this accusation as well.) I am grateful to be able to turn around and go a new direction (the definition of repent by the way) and I pray the same for our churches.
It should be our purpose to HEAL those who come to church, not create more “walking wounded.” As members of the TRUE Church, we should do what Jesus commanded us to do. “Love one another, as I have loved you.”
I really would like some fresh water in our churches. You know, that “living water” that Jesus told the Samaritan woman about. I’m tired of the stagnant…politically correct, let’s not rock the boat, don’t stir the (stagnant) waters church.
I suppose saying all of this takes a little courage. It’s not much, but it’s a start for this reluctant prophet.
More courage and Living water to each of you!