There’s no such thing as a perfect church. But there are plenty of really good churches. I’m happy to belong to one of them. Almost every day, God puts a visual reminder in front of me to show how beautiful his church is.
On Saturday, he sent Betty Lewis my way. She was pushing a cart with a bunch of chicken on it. There was about to be a funeral. That’s what Betty and her friends do when there’s about to be a funeral. They make sure that the family is fed. No one ever asks them to do it. They just do it. And it may not seem like that big of a deal. Unless you’re the grieving widow who is hungry but doesn’t feel like cooking and could really use some company.
Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. James 1:27 (ESV)
Last Saturday, seeing Betty Lewis push that cart full of chicken reminded me that I belong to a church where people care about each other.
Every Sunday morning we start our worship service off with prayer. It’s not just any prayer. Every man in the church is invited to come down to the front of the sanctuary to pray for God’s protection and provision over the service. Old men come. Young boys come with their fathers. I’m down there too.
Maybe it’s not hip. Maybe it disrupts the flow of the service. I don’t care. It makes me happy to see men taking a lead in prayer.
They took a lead last Wednesday night too.
A lady in our church had just found out that she was sick. Her husband called me on Wednesday morning and asked if the leaders of the church could pray over her.
Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. James 5:14 (ESV)
I was at the front of the line. Behind me, there were almost 20 men. One at a time, they came by, put their hand on their sister in Christ and prayed for God to make her better.
Seeing all of those men pray reminds me that I belong to a church that takes prayer seriously.
When I sit behind my desk, to my right there is a file drawer. Most of the file folders are empty. But there’s one that really should be broken up into two folders. The name on the tab at the top of the file folder is Letters. They are letters of encouragement. Some tell me to have a happy birthday. Some say good job. But they are all expressions of love.
I don’t take this for granted.
For a lot of pastors, their folder with the tab reading Hate Mail From Committees is filling up the whole drawer. They don’t have a letters drawer like I do. Not because they’re doing something wrong. It’s just that they lead a congregation full of leaking faucets (Proverb 27:15). When I open my file drawer, I’m reminded that I do not. And I am thankful.
We’ve gotten church wrong over the years. We’ve convinced ourselves that the church should be a cutting edge factory where we fight hard to stay ahead of cultural trends. Some treat it like one of those big box members only stores. They sign up but never show up until they need a spiritual pick me up. Or 200 rolls of toilet paper.
In reality, the church is the body of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the pastor. He’s the reason for the church. He’s the example for the church. His glory is the goal of the church. When we remember that and put it into practice, nothing else matters. Not carpet color. Not worship style. Nothing else.
Just loving Jesus and loving others.
I’m glad to be a part of one of those churches.