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

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Church of the Expressway

I was recently in a meeting where a guy was describing his recent trip home from Nashville. After coming through Chattanooga into Georgia, there was some type of traffic incident which brought the entire southbound side of I-75 to a complete standstill. After a few minutes, it was obvious that whatever had caused this was not going to be cleared up anytime soon.
My friend remarked that as the minutes passed, folks would begin to open doors, and then in a little bit would begin speaking to each other about the situation. Over the next period of time, a sense of community began to evolve. Kids began to play soccer in the median; others were tossing a football on the side of the expressway. Those who had cell phones were loaning them to those without; guys were in groups chatting with each other about guy things; ladies were in groups talking about lady things. Some kind souls brought out bottles of water and their travelling snacks to share while some very generous folks even opened their RV’s for bathroom emergencies. As the afternoon progressed, the crowd seemed to forget about the hurry many were in to get to their destinations and became almost like one large family. A family united by a common event and then bound closer as the time saw friendships begin and phone numbers and addresses exchanged.
As the traffic ahead finally began to move slowly, my friend mentioned it was almost sad to see everyone getting back into their cars, making sure they had the right kids, and telling each other goodbye. Then, it was back to the travel and the routine of getting home.
In a way, this is what the church is all about. In the circle of believers, it is known that the ‘church’ is not a building or facilities; the ‘church’ is the people. This can apply to a local, singular unit or to the body of believers universal. In my opinion, the church should be made up of all manner of people from all walks of life in order to provide a true community that teaches and supports each other. Since Christians are to learn acceptance, how else can you learn this when your local church is full of people similar to you in looks, economics and heritage?
I am extremely fortunate to now be a part of a church in nearby Conyers that fits my idea of a real church. It is a very large and diverse congregation made up of varying ethnic groups, all manner of economic backgrounds, a harmonious staff, a place where the style of worship is pleasing to all and provides a time of real community with each other and with God. Recently, we had a “PastorSwap” Sunday where our pastor spoke at a nearby African-American church and their pastor spoke to us. It was a great day because the idea was reinforced that we are all unified in Christ. Sure, it was a little different in both congregations, but the change was embraced and the two churches now have a more common bond. This will be continuing in coming months with other churches and all are looking forward to it.
My thoughts are that it is so easy to stand and sing the chorus “We are one in the bond of love,” and another thing to actually believe and experience it. True church should not see financial status, skin color, clothing, or any other differences. True church should be done orderly and without confusion or dissension. Scriptures tell us that “no longer Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female. You are all one in Christ Jesus.”

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