To Be the Church

As I have listened to the news, especially special reports on NPR, I have hear a word repeatedly come up and yet have not heard it commented on: church. As reporters visit shelters, they are often visiting churches. As unofficial clean up crews go out and remove trees from houses and clear debris, it is often church groups doing it. I have heard from many churches in this area who are sending not just money, but people to the affected areas just to help. It reminded me of something I read in the Bible this morning: “And let our people learn to devote themselves to good works, so as to help cases of urgent need, and not be unfruitful” (Titus 3:14). The context doesn’t seem to limit this to just the church, it doesn’t set any boundaries on the urgent need.

“And let our people learn to devote themselves to good works, so as to help cases of urgent need, and not be unfruitful” (Titus 3:14)

The world can argue with our theology. The can make a mockery of the notion of creation (isn’t evolution a fact?) and wince at the word ‘sin’. They can depict Christians as bubble-headed holier-than-thous on TV (Ned Flanders and Rev. Lovejoy on The Simpsons). But when we show up en masse to take a tree off their roof and cover the hole with a tarp, asking nothing in return, what do they say then? “Hi, we’re from XYZ Church and we were told you needed some help.” How can you argue with that?

I have been praying that as people from New Orleans and the other affected areas encounter Christians in a way they have never encountered them before, that God will use it to open their eyes and change their minds. May it be that He would awaken many and begin to stir repentance in them. May they consider Christianity as more than a political movement or a laughably naive world view. May they see the church as the church. And may God grant that we do a good job being who we are.

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  • I’ve long believed that Luke’s summary statement in Acts 2:47 “and the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved” is directly linked as (causally) to the description of the community of the church (Acts 2:42-46) that immediately precedes it. Luke does the same thing again in Acts 5:12-14 with another statement of addition to the church, “more than ever, believers were added to the Lord.” These descriptions of the church, functioning as a community of YHWH and attracting believers to Him, I think, are a reflection of Matthew 5:16 — “Let your light shine before others so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” Obviously, I wouldn’t say people come to Christ solely as a result of the church’s good works — but they sure seem to attract attention, don’t they? Not surprising in a “me first; you last” world.

  • I very much agree Cartee! So I kind of scratch my head in wonder when guys like Derek Webb, who have demonstrated great theological depth and tremendous commitment to the gospel, start speaking about social issues, they get accused of abandoning the gospel! I don’t think he’s abandoning it, he’s living it out. We all should.

    I tend to lay the blame at the feet of the Fundimentalists. When the Liberals began to preach a social gospel the Fundimentalists abandoned anything social and only preached the gospel. Instead of taking the Biblical approach (as you’ve so well articulated) and maintaining both as they should have. Never let those who compromise dictate how you behave.

    Great post man. Thanks.

  • AMEN, brother. Evangelicals have become embarrassed about mercy. Funny thing is, it didn’t seem to bother Jesus at all!

    Soli Deo Gloria!

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