What the Local Church has Done RIGHT
I am a life-long church attender. My parents attended before I was born, and brought me and my brothers our whole lives. In my 46+ years on this planet, I have seen pretty much everything... from the dead, dry, and barren, to the thriving and growing... from the plain and predictable, to the weird and extreme. I have seen and experienced pain and rejection from the worst of who we are... but I have also seen and experienced healing and love from the BEST of who we are. I have been a church skeptic, a faithful attender, a committed involved volunteer, and an on-staff Pastor. Through all of it, I have realized that I belong to an amazing fellowship. I belong to the Body of Christ - followers of Jesus from all over the world, dozens of millions of us that strive to live for Him the best we can. In recent times, I have read many articles/blogs, etc. that talk about what we have done wrong in the local church,, what we need to FIX, what we need to stop doing. Yeah - I have felt the sting of truth poke through me as I see how religiously rule-oriented I have been over the years. BUT... in my first "HUB", I am going to talk about what I have seen the Church do RIGHT. If and when you see people in a church act stupidly or rude or any other way that offends and pushes you away, causes you pain, etc. - realize that the problem is not the existence of the local church, the problem was that person was not acting like the follower of Jesus they claimed to be. SO... what has the church done right?
1) Healing and Comfort in time of pain and loss.
I have personally witnessed believers be at their best when someone loses a person they love. When I lost my brother, then my father, many believers in my local church family wrapped their arms around me (both literally and symbolically), gave gifts of food and money, prayed for me, spoke words of comfort (or didn't speak at all, which was wise), called to see how I was doing, remembered the date as each year passed, and other things. People outside of the "Family of God" watch and see us fight and argue and act like idiots all the time, but watching compassion and love in time of pain is a beautiful thing.
2) Challenged Me to Live My Life Better.
By "better", I mean "more like the way I should because I call myself a follower of Jesus". I have met and built relationships with people who are incredible examples to me on how I should live my life, by being more than a "good person". I have been challenged to be better at being ME, by being a LOVING person, not just a GOOD one. To show love to my neighbor, co-worker, family (of course), fellow church members, etc. To really examine the way Jesus lived when He was a human walking this earth and ask myself how I can be more like HIM.
3) Support, Prayer, Love, and Encouragement and Acceptance During a Time of Rejection.
I won't go into details, but we all have experienced times of rejection... and not just mild ones, like someone cutting in line at the Grocery Store, or not winning the PowerBall lottery (awwww...) - what I mean is times when you feel discarded, thrown to the side of the road as if you were a bag of garbage, and there is nothing you can do about it. Yeah - that time you are thinking about in your life as you read this. And the reasons FOR feeling that way really aren't relevant to my point here, but the feelings are VALID nonetheless. For me and my family, there was a church family (led by the Pastor and HIS family) that picked us UP and loved us, accepted us, reached out to us, and embraced us as part of who they are. HEALING comes through this. It shows as an example of how we all should be for the hurting in our community - "Here, let me lead you to a place of healing, and walk with you as you search for it."
4) Loving People No Matter What Their Past or Present is Like
Yes, yes, there are irrationally judgmental people who attend church, blah blah blah - it's not right, but welcome to the world. But let me tell you something about a local church that knows and teaches the Bible - WHOEVER you are, WHATEVER your story is (and we all have a story), WHEREVER you came from, they love you and accept you. It doesn't mean the people there put a stamp of approval on how you have lived, but that doesn't matter. because the One whose approval we should seek is the One who made the Universe. (That's GOD by the way.) A local church that is doing things right will love on you no matter what, whether you have a great life, or if your life just plain SUCKS. They LOVE you. With GOD'S love - this kind of love is the kind that separates man from his actions - you GET the love because you exist. As far as behavior, sin, right and wrong, well, this same church will teach you how to know God SO well, that you will hear from HIM, know His WORD, hear His VOICE, and KNOW what is sin, KNOW what is right and wrong, not because a preacher yelled at you, but because you know HIM. We all have pasts that we don't want uncovered. God and His mercy and Love covers all of it, if we make the decision to follow Him.
5) Taking Care of the Poor and Needy in the Local Community.
Oh BOY... this Hub dude is one of those political "I hate Republicans and I hate the church but love Jesus Liberal mouthy blah blah yada yada yada..." UMM... no. I a actually Conservative in my politics, but that's my business and my right, and I don't like posting about it. When I say "taking care of the poor and needy" I do NOT mean government programs that are forced on people. I mean a local church (or individual believer) that catches a vision to help people in need. To FEED the hungry, to CLOTHE the naked, to help pay bills for the poor, etc. "But what if the person is poor because of their own dumb choices? What if they buy cigarettes and booze and get tattoos and have a 500 dollar iPhone and a motorcycle?" Yeah... personal responsibility is something I agree with. I admit it... I get irritated when I see that. But it doesn't mean they don't have immediate needs to feed their families. I have seen churches help people while at the same time, TEACH them how to take care of themselves, TEACH them how to BE responsible. Faith-Based organizations are sometimes the very first to respond to a catastrophe, CHURCHES are sometimes the first and BEST responders to community needs. This is awesome.
6) Being the SAME People During the Week That They Are on Sunday Mornings.
"I don't want to go to church, there are too many hypocrites there." Yeah,,, well, then don't go to the gym, because there are too many obese people there. Isn't that silly? You go TO the gym to GET in shape and maintain that. You NEED a church so that you can get help and BE a help to others in growing closer to God, knowing HIM more, walking that life together. The BEST of the "Body of Christ" that I see are those that take off the masks, and the hats (meaning, my "church hat" on Sundays, my "work hat" on Monday, basically, being a different person, not showing my true self). The BEST of us are those who are the same person all week - if I call myself a Follower of Jesus, then I am one on Sunday, and I am one on Monday. I have seen so many live like this, and churches that TEACH people to live this way. THAT is amazing.
I am sure I have more, but for now, this is it. I hope to write a book someday, maybe I will make each chapter based on my posts here. Notice something... I said absolutely nothing about how church services are run or how stages look.
KNOW THE LOVE OF GOD FOR YOU TODAY!