I am not among those who have given up on the local church.
But I AM critical of the way we in the U.S. –and especially the Southern U.S. -do church.
Let’s be honest.
Most of us go to church because it makes us feel good, refuels our spirits for the week ahead and is a safe spot to park our kids for a few hours respite from the demands of parenthood.
An added bonus is that sometimes we get to contribute to a cause, a mission or a personal need without having to get TOO involved.
So we come away feeling pretty good about who we are, what we believe and how much we “sacrifice” for others and the Kingdom.
But this is not what Christ came for folks.
He didn’t come so that we can have a weekly club meeting, soothe our souls and shut out the world. He came so that desperate hearts on the fringe could draw near.
He rent the veil so that no one who trusts His finished work is excluded.
Not even the messy and imperfect.
Not even the poor or unlovely or slightly crazy.
We have got to do better.
We have got to make church a place where people who have no hope feel like they are welcome. We have got to reach out and reach down and reach across and pull those hurting hearts inside.
I know (believe, me, I know!) that it takes more energy than you want to exert. It takes more flexibility than a crammed-full schedule can allow. It takes more time and more emotional investment than any of us really want to spend.
But this is what Christ came for.
He came to expose the barriers religious people had erected between God and man.
He came to make a way where there was no way.
How welcome are the truly broken to our house of worship? Do we want to see their pain, entertain their questions and offer hope that includes walking the road alongside them and giving support for the long haul?
Jesus came to heal the broken.
Healing takes time and resources. It requires personal commitment to those God brings into our lives. It is messy and can’t be boiled down to a formula or pamphlet.
Jesus has invited is to be His hands and feet.
Will we accept the invitation?