Yes, I used the famous Christmas song that has brought much controversy to grab attention. Instead of it being cold outside, I changed it to cold INSIDE. By inside I mean the church.
No, our church buildings are comfortably warm in winter and perfectly cool in the summer. Padded pews in deep rich colors to sit on and plush carpeting beneath our feet. Beautiful floral arrangements, and the latest in audio and sometimes even video equipment. Long gone are the days of sawdust floors and manual fans lovingly referred to as arm-strong fans. (They worked only as well as the strong arm you moved it by.)
We have been blessed. Abundantly. From indoor plumbing to coffee stations. There is all you could ever want in a building. We have built spaces immaculately designed, curbed only by imagination all in the name of the Lord.
Inside our church we sell t-shirts, caps,key chains and candles. You can buy an audio or video recording of last weeks service, and you will save if you purchase both. The youth group is selling chocolate candy so they can visit the water park over the summer, while the Ladies auxiliary is preparing for a Christmas bazaar.
Any of that sound familiar? We get so busy doing our “church” stuff that when a new person arrives on our sanctuary we have no idea how to react.
Who are they? Where do they live? I’ve seen them somewhere before. Wonder if they are planning to stay or are they just visiting today? Why do they dress that way? Why did they leave their last church? Wonder if they make enough money that they will give in the offerings?
The right hand of fellowship can be a reassuring gesture when someone is new to a church. A friendly smile and a hug go a long way. You do not know them, BUT remember they do not know you either. At least you have the home court advantage!
I believe that our church outreach should be more generous than our decorating and travel funds. There are people out there, dying in their sin, that will never darken a church door because of the cold shoulder they’ve received even BEFORE they try to go inside. Often times from well meaning people who call themselves Christians.
The other day at a shopping center a man approached me. The wind was blowing and there was a chill in the air. He explained that he wanted to stay at the local mission that night out of the cold weather, because he was so uncomfortable the night before. He explained that he lacked just a few dollars to be able to stay there. I shook my head, and told him I was sorry and hurried into the nearest store. The Holy Spirit stopped me in my tracks. “Why did you not help?” Rang in my ears over and over.
Matthew 25:42-46 reads:
For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:
43 I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.
44 Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?
45 Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.
46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.
I went back to the man and gave him what I felt the Lord was leading me to give him. So much joy came over his face, and my heart felt so full of love. I thanked the Lord once I was in the car for helping me not to lose my blessing. Yes, my blessing for being obedient to God. God blesses those who bless others.
I was still a believer, but I was so busy with my own agenda that I almost missed out on something wonderful. Praise God for the Holy Spirit who teaches us. All we have to do is listen.
The warmth of the love of God shared with another person goes a long was to bridging the divide between people. Be it someone on the street or someone you meet at church. Display God’s love genuinely. If they have a request, pray for them. If they are down, send a note of encouragement. If they are in the hospital, visit them. If they have a need that you can meet, do not hesitate. These things will not only bless them, but you as well.
This world is FULL of cold shoulders. The church should not be one of them. According to the scripture in Matthew 25, the ones that do for others are the righteous. I don’t know how you feel, but I want to be counted as righteous. In right placement with God. We do not do these things to become righteous, we do them because we ARE righteous.
Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. (1 John 3:1)
Yes indeed! Just look at the LOVE that God has given! He calls us sons and daughters! Not clay from the ground. Not just servants. CHILDREN of GOD! In my opinion that is something to be excited about!
Matthew 5:16, Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
Let’s show them all. Outside and Inside the church. Leave the cold to the atmosphere, and share the warm of Jesus. For God so loved the world…