A long time ago, someone told me that they never felt as alone and insecure as they did when they went to church on Sunday mornings. I didn’t understand it at the time, because my whole existence revolved around church life – social and spiritual. Then our situation changed, making it necessary to find a new church home. We were ill-prepared for the shock.
Instead of being embraced by our our new Christian “friends”, we were held at arm’s length and viewed cautiously, skeptically, and often rudely by a group of believers who should have been the people we could trust. We were at a loss as to how to deal with the criticisms we endured under the guise of correction. We felt so alone. I still wonder why we stayed there as long as we did, because it clearly was not a place where we experienced the liberty to grow in Christ and worship the Father as we so badly wanted to. We finally moved on.
I told that little story because I still see the same things happening in churches and Christian communities. I can’t help but look around me and see those on the fringes – the ones who are sitting alone at the far end of the back pew, or standing by themselves during the post-service fellowship, a cup of coffee in their hands and a wistful look on their faces. They may not be suffering ridicule from fellow Christians in the verbal sense, but are they suffering just the same because of our obliviousness to their needs?
I have to ask myself some hard questions, the first one being: WHAT IS MY PROBLEM? Am I too timid to approach that person who was brave enough to come to church by herself? No. Am I afraid she is going to dump all her problems on me in a fifteen-minute monologue? No, but even if she did, so what? Do I think that I am too important to bother with her? No! Then what? What is my problem?
I have no excuses. And excuses are mostly invalid anyway.
Here’s my conclusion: We. Are. Selfish. We’re self-centred human beings who call ourselves Christians, but fail to act like it.
Okay, you probably didn’t like that, but (shrug) whatever. It’s the truth. I can say that because it’s my truth just as much as it is yours.
I’m going to challenge you. Next time you go to church, make a deliberate effort to look for that “alone” person. Instead of criticizing them (mentally or verbally), walk right up and ask if you can sit with them. Invite them out for lunch or coffee. Find out about them. And that means keeping your own opinions and life speeches to yourself for once. Ask them if you can pray with them. Invite them to your bible study or home group. And be sincere about it.
That’s how church is done, folks.
It’s not about your Sunday morning social club or your did-you-see-what-she-is-wearing conversation. It’s not about whether or not you liked the music or the pastor’s sermon. It’s not about being first in line for the chocolate donuts at the end of the service. It’s actually not about you at all.
It’s about Jesus in you and about demonstrating His love to others. It’s about being the light in a very dark world full of alone people.
Matthew 5:14-16 says this: You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. (NKJV)
Get your light out from under that basket and let it shine. Find someone to share it with.
You can do it!