As a kid I remember being able to walk to a church meeting on Sunday morning. It was in the middle of my neighborhood, so no one had to walk more than a block to get there. If I remember correctly, I don’t think the building could hold more than two hundred people shoulder to shoulder in the pews. I knew something about every person I saw during those services, even if it was nothing more than where they lived, I knew something. Over the years I realized just how important that little bit of knowledge was.
Say what you will, I don’t believe that large congregations are a sign of a healthy church. A successful business, yes – but it’s not the Church. Too many Christians go to church and spend very little time being the church. I’m not saying that charity work isn’t being done. There are a lot of good-will efforts being made. But the church is living so far below the bar Jesus set. Why? Because it’s too busy trying to look good rather than simply being good – to one another and the rest of the world.
It’s amazing that we have the technology to literally be in each other’s lives practically around the clock. I believe that could be a good thing when used in a godly manner. I don’t mean the façade that’s posted on social media. I mean connecting on the hard stuff, the real stuff we deal with from day to day. As a kid my neighbors knew me. I was welcomed in their homes without a formal invitation. They knew my parents, and in some cases even my grandparents.
Growing up, I had multiple “mamas” that looked after me, and father figures that showed me what being responsible looked like. In my neighborhood, whoever’s yard I stepped in, I was their child and I felt safe. The same was true for the kids that stepped in our yard – my parents protected them like they were their kids. Whatever we had, we shared. No one went hungry, thirsty, or felt left out. Most important, I not only heard the word, I saw it being lived out day to day. That’s why what I learned in those early years stuck – I experienced it.
As a young adult, when I needed it most, the remembrance of those early years, drew me back to the Church. I knew I couldn’t do things on my own. I needed Jesus and His church to help me through the tough times. Not just on Sunday mornings, but daily – at work, at home, helping to keep my kids safe in my neighborhood, speaking Truth in each other’s lives; iron sharpening iron.
“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.”Hebrews 10:23-25
I know what we have today is a far cry from true community. People talk about the good old days as if it can’t be that way right now. I hear people talk about how blessed they are, but they’re still stressed out about how openly depraved the world really is. Yet, as a body of believers, we don’t do what’s necessary to stop it – and make no mistake, I know we have the power to do it. I will not feed into the lies about racism, lack of equality, or any other propaganda the world throws at me to generate fear. I will be who God created me to be and choose to love. Love is compassion in action. I will not compromise the Truth to spare someone’s feelings – I can’t because that’s called a lie. Besides, feelings can never be satisfied. If I see a need, I will do whatever I can to fix it. I believe the Word of God, so I know I can’t out give God. If I am focused on the resources I see, the faith I have is in my own ability, not God. I don’t need an organization to determine how I give or tell me how to behave – I have God’s word and I will take responsibility for myself! I can hear directly from God, and He is always speaking me.