Lately I’ve been thinking about the growing perception in our society that Christians are narrow-minded, judgmental, and hypocritical. We are known for what we are AGAINST, not what we are FOR. It makes me wonder – how did we get here, and what have we done – or neglected – to be viewed this way? Interestingly, some researchers have found that openness to spirituality is ever-present in society, and that people yearn for genuine care and love. By itself, this sounds like our churches should be overflowing with “seekers”, doesn’t it? However, it was also discovered that most people are very hesitant to step foot into a church building or anything institutional. They want to get to know us in THEIR context, not in ours. People want to know that we care about them and their lives, their families, their jobs, their communities before they will every bother to trust in the God we serve. They don’t care how great we are and what programs we offer if we can’t be real to them.
Among other contributing factors, what has happened over the years is that somehow the Body of Christ has become self-centered and distant. We have lost interest in our neighbours and focused more on staying within our own little “fish bowl” called church. We have become less concerned about supporting our local communities and the people who live in them, and more concerned about church programs and services. We have forgotten how to be Christ’s Body to the world.
The Christ-followers in the book of Acts were known for their care for their neighbours, their sacrificial lifestyles, their hospitality towards the stranger and the needy, the rescuing of abandoned children, their love for the widow, and their radical obedience to the Great Commission. Living in their comfort zone was not an option. As a result, they had “favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.” (Acts 2:47)
Are we known for that? Do people know, I mean truly know, that they can come to us when they are in need? When is the last time we opened our home to share a meal with an unchurched neighbour? Do we reach out to people in our community who have lost a loved one? What about being a steady support to the single girl down the street who is expecting but has no support system? Are we willing to truly listen to people without trying to push our own ideas and agenda? How can we become the true, active, living Body of Christ again? It will take open eyes, creativity, and sacrifice.
The apostle Paul put it this way: “Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.” (1 Cor. 9:19-23). In short, we put ourselves in other people’s shoes and meet them where they’re at.
Let’s start being the Body of Christ again! Let’s start by choosing one person or family that we can befriend today. Do we need to slow our hurried pace and stop to fill someone’s need? Maybe we can be a mentor to a struggling married couple or college student. Everyone’s context is different and unique. I pray that we would all live within our own context with open eyes and listening ears. We are the Body of Christ – let’s be Jesus to our community again!