The other day, my wife and I were watching the news (something we do not do very often anymore), and they were reporting on the Boston Marathon. At one point in the story, the journalist says these words:
“It's a place where shattered lives are put back together. A place where people find hope.”
Immediately, I jokingly, asked, “They're talking about the church, right?” Of course, they were not talking about a church or anything Christian. I believe they were talking about a rehabilitation facility that has been helping victims from the 2013 Marathon bombings. Nevertheless, it got me thinking.
How would the journalists describe the church today? Would they use this same phrase, or would they say something else entirely? While I think Jesus designed the church to be a place where shattered lives are put back together and where people find hope, I don't think the world sees it like that very often. Instead, I think the world sees the church as a place full of hypocrites. A place where they want your money. A place where I only go on Easter and Christmas. A place where I will be judged.
The other day, someone shared with me some posts about how you should avoid visiting a church on Easter. The main reasons were because many churches use holidays as “bait and switch.” They put on a huge program to get people hooked, but the rest of the year, they do nothing even close to that. While our church makes a point not to do this, I cannot say the same for others. In fact, I'm sure there are many churches that do fall into this on Easter. I think there is a problem with this. Instead of reaching out to non-Christians once or twice a year with a big show, we [church] need to be doing it every day through our words and actions. Yes, this means during the week, too. Every day, we should be the church – partnering with God to put shattered lives back together and share hope.
I've learned something through the aftermath of the Boston bombings. It all comes from another phrase many people now know very well: Boston Strong! While the phrase itself contains nothing wrong, I do find the mindset behind it interesting. Maybe it is just me, but it seems like the focus is in the wrong place. I find it most interesting that those within the church are also falling into this. Instead of focusing on finding strength in God, or even focusing on all of America or the world, our focus is solely on Boston. Now, don't get me wrong. I love Boston, but the Marathon is a worldwide event. It wasn't just Boston that was attacked that day. And it wasn't just America. In a way, it was the entire world. In response, Christians, instead of turning to God for their strength, turn to a city. Even when compared to the phrases we heard after the 9-11 terrorist attacks (i.e. “God bless America” and “Never forget”), the focus seems to be very much in a different place.
While we cannot expect non-Christians to get this concept, I think we should expect it from others within the church. We need to change our mindset, and we need to have a greater, positive impact on the world. Jesus calls us to be salt and light. He also says that people will know we are His disciples by the love that we show. If we were truly doing this, I think others would have a different opinion of the church, and I think the world would start looking to the church to find hope and strength. If we keep putting our faith in organizations, cities, and people, we will continue to be let down and disappointed. But as the Bible says, those who put their hope in The Lord will renew their strength and soar on wings like eagles.
Before you start throwing stones and writing hateful comments, I want to acknowledge that there are many Christians doing an excellent job in the world. They are reaching out and loving others in amazing ways. However, there is always some room for improvement, right? I like to think that I do a good job, too, but I know there are times when I am not doing my best. If you were honest with yourself, I'm sure you could say the same, too.
So, this is a call to the church. Let's step up and be the church! Let's share this amazing Gospel with those who have yet to hear it. Let's make a difference in the world. Let's be salt and light. Let's share God's love. Let's point to the best source for strength. Let's be the place where shattered lives come to be put back together and a place where people find true hope. And maybe, just maybe, we can change some opinions and begin to make an even bigger impact on the world.