It seems like every time I open up facebook or other social media, there is another post or article bashing Christians or the church. And sadly, these are from Christians.
Let me say that I have been hurt by those in the church many times, but I do not want to get swept up in this thought process. I just want you to know I am not coming from a “pollyanish” viewpoint.
From these postings, we are shamed that we don’t love the poor enough nor graciously accept sinners. We don’t give enough and are made to feel like jerks because we go to church in man-made buildings with A/C.
Lest I sound like one who “protesteth too much,” please allow me to share some things I see that are good and right in the churches we have attended recently.
First, my husband (Tom) has preached for 39 years in churches in different states. We’ve seen the good, bad and ugly in many situations. But we have definitely seen the good. Tom is doing mission work now but here are some observations I have made.
We have attended a church a few times which gives 50% of their income to missions. They had an announcement in their bulletin a few weeks ago about a friendship program with international students. They are reaching out to many. Many of their men still wear suits and ties and they are a tad bit conservative in their music and worship, but they are reaching the world for Christ. (I only mention the suits and ties because some people think that type of dress offends others).
A tiny church on the North Shore of Oahu has increased their giving twice to support our ministry more. Waialua Christian Church is led by Steve Sturm. Steve and his wife, Blossom, toil tirelessly but most of their “fruit” eventually move, since many of them are military people. But they love…deeply.
Two good friends of mine quietly go to jail every Thursday night to minister to the women there. Their husbands support them, their church prays for them, and they go. Another friend I have (who is 82 years old) goes every week to a prison to teach, sing and play the piano.
I know of a couple who left their secure ministry at a fairly large church to run a ministry for the disenfranchised of Joplin, Missouri.
I know of Christians, from churches we have served, who have apologized to us and accepted our love, bringing healing to our relationships.
There is a small church in rural Missouri which had 9 baptisms a couple of months ago…and it wasn’t the “pretty people” who were baptized. Somebody had to love them into that.
There are friends of mine who are growing by leaps and bounds (who attend traditional churches), and those who have incredible ministries to homosexuals, single parents, un-wed mothers, addicts (and the list goes on).
There are those we know who preach the Word of God without fear (including our son) and who love others sincerely at the same time – because how can you preach the Word and not love?
Others go on missions trip, collect items for the poor, serve meals and those who reach out to the homeless.
Still others lose sleep to be with those who are hurting, sick or grieving.
This is not a conclusive list…in fact, it is just the very tip of the iceberg!
This is all (and more) within our small sphere of friendships or acquaintances. I cannot believe that we are the only ones who see Christ at work through others. Are we perfect? Of course not! But there are many I know who are trying to draw closer to the Lord and wanting to serve Him with their whole hearts.
God has not called us to deride other Christians, through sarcasm or shame-based criticism, for what they are not doing. He wants to know what WE are going to do. And quite honestly, when we judge others like this, are we not doing the same thing for which we are judging them?
When we give up trying to be responsible for others’ actions, or lack of service, or complacency, we will do a lot to move closer to Jesus and allow His Holy Spirit to convict others.
We don’t know what others are doing behind the scenes, nor do we know what is going on in their lives. Let’s just be the church in our own lives, pray for others, love others and quit bashing that which Christ died for!
I would love to hear how you or those you know are serving others and reaching them for Christ.