When he stopped me in the store he said he needed to talk. In his words, he needed help, “Big time.” He had been struggling with alcohol. He couldn’t pay his bills. He was about to lose his job, get kicked out of his house, and to top it all off, his wife was threatening to leave him.
I listened to him talk about needing God to help him and getting his life straightened out. It was when I asked him, “Have you ever thought about going to a church to look for more help,” that his words cut me deep. He said, “A church? Why would I ever want to go to a church? They’d only make me feel worse.”
Here was a man wanting to run towards God for help but run away from God’s church. He saw God as a life-preserver who could help him, but he saw God’s church as causing more problems in his life. Have we, as a church, moved so far away from mercy and grace that people don’t see the church as a place to find help or God? Wasn’t it the “down and out” that flocked to Jesus during his time, but now people run from his followers when they’re in need of help. What have we lost?
It’s been said, “Churches ought to be competing to “out-grace” their rivals, and grace should be Christianity’s best gift to the world.” Amen to that. Here are a few questions I’m trying to figure out…
- Have we presented ourselves to the world as Pharisees who are so perfect that we’re not in need of God’s grace too?
- Why does the world see a shortage of grace, mercy and forgiveness in the church?
- Why does the world see church as a place to go after you have cleaned up your act?
We represent God (or should), so why doesn’t the world see this? Just a few things I’m thinking about today.
Any thoughts you’d like to add?