Being Jesus to The People Around You
We must love one another or die - W.H. Auden
A bunch of years ago I went to an event where the son of a famous evangelist and preacher was speaking, and presumably doing his best to carry on the legacy of his aging father.
At the end of the event, the speaker gave what is commonly called an "altar call" where anyone who wanted to "come forward" to the stage to become a Christian, or rededicate their life to Jesus would be met by volunteers who would help them figure that out.
After the event was over, I received an email from the speaker's organization touting the incredible number of "decisions for Christ" that were made during the event at my city. There was also a link to a site where you could donate to keep the events coming.
It occurred to me that for that organization it was all a numbers game. Sure enough, at the end of the tour they would go on to release the final numbers of all of the people they managed to "win to Christ," And ask for more money.
I'm not so jaded that I don't think God can use moments like that event to break through someone's barriers and catch their heart. But I do believe that far too many churches and Christian organizations have lost the plot when it comes to their purpose.
Here's a hint. It's not about nameless, faceless, mass evangelism. It's not about getting someone to make a spur of the moment commitment and then releasing them out into the world. It's not about just trying to get to "heaven" when you die.
The purpose of the Church---the purpose for all of us who claim to follow Jesus--is to embody the kingdom of God here on earth, right here, right now. We are the very hands and feet of Christ--not salespeople with a quota to fill.
I recently read this convicting quote from artist and author Michael Gungor:
Christian empires turned the idea of incarnation (God made flesh) into a dead and sterile dogma of exclusivity rather than lived reality of love. The ruling entities and those leading the developments of Christianity and the Church made Jesus's words more about what will happen in some imagined future after death rather than the eternal life that he pointed to here and now.What are you doing on a daily basis to show the people you encounter in your life that your faith is not a "dead and sterile dogma of exclusivity?" What are you doing to show the people you encounter that you actually care about them?
What are you doing to make the most of the time you have been given to live out the hope of God's kingdom right now?
Spend time today being intentional about sharing a word of hope with the people you come into contact with throughout your day. Embody love. Embody hope. Let the people in your life know that God is for them... and so are you.
And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.