"Preach the gospel at all times, if necessary use words." - St. Francis of Assisi

Saturday, June 23, 2007

What Has Happened to the Church?

What comes to mind when you hear the term “safe refuge”? I think about a place where the elements of the outside world cannot harm me, where I am protected and where I can rest and regain some internal strength and growth. In all the old movies, when a villain or suspected criminal needed a place of safe refuge, they would always head to the church. There they would find protection from the legal system while their case was being investigated. I don’t know whether that was a law or just a Hollywood thing; that the church was to be a place of refuge and safety.

Then, you would naturally assume that the church is a place where the believers can gather and find rest, fellowship and strength as a withdrawal spot from the hectic world outside the four walls. At the risk of being attacked by the torch-wielding churchgoers of Henry County, I would tend to say that I’m not so sure this concept is true any longer. I’m not talking about any specific church or faith, but of the universal church…. we all have the same symptoms of becoming not a place of refuge, but a place of busyness, discrimination and forgetfulness of our true purpose.

All people, repeat, all people should be able to go to any church, repeat, any church and find acceptance, fellowship and the ability to catch a deep breath before facing the workplace and outside world. They should find the simple truth of God being spoken, which is basically to ‘love God and love others like God does.” “Treat others with respect and love like you want to be treated yourself.” So often we enter a church for a service and are rarely spoken to, given a list of programs that we ought to be attending, hear words spoken that have more syllables than you can utter in one breath with no dictionaries available and then we leave with more volunteered jobs to do than imaginable. All this cuts down on the time we have to spend with our spouses, children, families and friends.

Folks, now before you think I’m bashing the institutional church, please understand that I am not doing so. I just returned from a trip to Louisville, KY where we did “church” in homeless shelters, children’s hospitals, horse tracks and at a snow cone stand alongside the highway. We did the basic truth – we loved God and told others that He loved them, too. No theological words, no strings attached, just pure and simple church defined as a fellowship of believers gathering together even if it was in a horse stable or walking the streets of a tough neighborhood.

It struck me that doing good for others was one of the main teachings of Jesus. As was said about Him, “He went about doing good.” Will that be said of all us church people, or just that they were regular members of the “Church Up On the Hillside”?

To quote another scripture that is one of my life verses: “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15) Do you serve the building and programs, or the God whom they represent?

And for today my friends, this has been the gospel according to Jimmy.


At 8:45 AM, Blogger Vicki said...

Hi Jimmy~

The reason the church is (and has been) in turmoil is because it has gotten away from the gospel message of grace. The simple message is not to love God and tell others about Him....the grace message is that He loved us and gave His life for us, so that we could have life and have it more abundantly!

The gospel has never been about programs and 'doing'...but abiding in Him, allowing His fruit to be expressed through us.

As we live, allowing His love to be expressed through us, others will be drawn to Him.

We've got it all backwards. No wonder we're frustrated:-).

In His grace,


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