The church I attend has gotten the reputation of being heavily involved in outreach ministry. We are a mid-size congregation blessed with a very generous membership and a have a Pastor whose spiritual leadership leads us outside these four walls. There is a dirty little secret within these walls that this congregation has discovered and it is Christianity’s best keep secret.
Christians aren’t perfect by any means and their behavior often influences how non-believers see us and the Church. Not all people who attend church are “Saved” and for many the term “saved” is still a mystery within their heart and mind. Here in this country for most of us our Church is located close to where we live, heated in the winter and air-conditioned in the summer. The pews are padded, the sanctuary well lit and now days many have the newest of visual aids available to enhance our worship experience. Many times services are planned and activities scheduled around community activities. Churches are always looking for ways to “serve the community” which in church talk means, doing things that create “community awareness” of our church, reach out and of course add to the membership roll. No I am not down on Church. There is no better place to be in this world today but that dirty little secret lies outside these walls.
The secret can be found in the neighborhoods we don’t visit, the back lots, ally -ways and other places we fear to go. To us we dismiss these people as the lost souls who need to repent and know Jesus. But please dear Lord “Do I have to get to know them? Surely you don’t expect us to have them here at our church?” These are the lost or should we not be honest and admit they have lost out. For whatever the reason they are without jobs, a place to stay and in some cases they prefer to live this way. There are some whom are a little better off but struggle from day- to-day to just get by.
The dirty little secret is that Christianity is not found within the walls of any church, it is found where Jesus walked. Jesus ate with the tax collectors, walked among lepers, knelt in the dirt to talk to an adulteress, and forgave the criminal. His ministry was not within the walls, it was in his heart among the people he was sent to save. There were many things he could have told Peter that last time. Jesus simply said “feed my sheep.” Church is easy. Christianity is a dirty business or better put, a calling out to serve. Serving people, who don’t look like us, talk like us and sometimes doesn’t smell like us. It is nice and right to do, but sitting to pray, hear a sermon, sing a hymn won’t do what we are called to do. We have to get out of the pew and go among the humanity Jesus came to save and has commanded his Church to also do.