At my church, this has been brought up occasionally in the past, but more so lately. Where is everyone? At one time, when I was younger, our church was filled up. Each seat was filled, ready to hear the word of God.
But What Happened?
Now a days, it is slim, and getting slimmer by the day. The people we do have at church are older, and we are loosing them due to illness and the like. First, let me say, I pray about them often. These are men and women I had grown up with. Called them aunts and uncles, or even grandma and grandpa. We didn’t just see each other at church either. We would go and bake with them, swim at their houses, or just plain go and visit.
What happened to the children of that generation. Those around my age and even younger. We don’t even have enough children to have a youth group anymore, and that was something I enjoyed when I was that age. No one new is really coming into the church. All of us have grown, and many have gone their own way. I know with my family…the tribe of us children, have spread throughout the country basically. But, there are still some of my siblings that do go to church. So there’s that.
But why did the rest leave? Christians have a public reputation, and it isn’t a good one. At church we talk about how loving God is, yet many go out and tell others how they are so incorrect about everything that they are going to Hell.
I myself have been told that in the past. I had just turned my back for these reasons, actually. And sure enough, I felt justified, the day I was at the fair wearing a pretty inappropriate shirt. A minister, advertising his church, and trying to call people back to God, makes it a point to single me out of a crowd, and speak loudly enough so that everyone around us could hear. He told me that my shirt is very inappropriate, and because I chose to wear such blasphemy that I would go to Hell. He really had no other words than these.
I was appalled. But, back then my filter was entirely nonexistent. (For those of you who know me you may think that to be impossible, as I seem to have a very small or thin filter as it is, but I assure you it was.) Add to the fact that I was angry with God, well, I let him have it, just as he did to me. I informed him right in front of the same crowd that he condemned me in. I let him know, that if he was truly a man of God, then he should be more brushed up on his bible. Because, even myself, young and blasphemous apparently, know that we do not have that right to condemn someone to hell the way he had just done to me. That we are to love our neighbor and our enemy. I informed him, that in doing what he has done to me, that he would be judged the same or worse.
Today, I realize I was not entirely correct in that. Because I left a few important things out. We, as Christians, are supposed to be teaching WHY we shouldn’t be blasphemous. Why we should be aware of the things we do and say. We should be teaching by speaking, yes, but also by leading in example. And, we should be using our love thy neighbor, and love our enemy more often.
How can we bring it back?
So, how can we bring the love of God back to our communities and to our church so that we can show the truth to the public eye? When was the last time we really got down and dirty? I mean in the community? Have we spoken to someone, not just down and out because they are ill. What about those in poverty? Yes, we donate money, but that isn’t all that is needed. We need to look close to home. Even as close as our actual neighbors.
Dig deep, and learn who they are. And, remember, do not judge them. HELP THEM. Show them the love that we ACTUALLY live by and in. Show them what it really means to be a child of God. With some, you could even share your experiences and how you came to God. I myself have shared some experiences here. Just two Fridays ago, I wrote a poem on part of my own experience with domestic violence. It isn’t easy, it was actually terrifying to me to open up that much, even online. However, if I don’t share that along with all I do here on Sundays, how can I reach those that need it?
Sometimes digging deep means that you need to dig deep inside yourself, as well as others. Also, in doing so, we realize we aren’t alone. I’m not the only one to have gone through violence like that. I also know that there are oh so many who have it worse than I could ever think up. But, we have to start somewhere. And the more we bring these people to God, the more we can show that Christians are not what all those have seen in the public eye.
What’s the Point?
So, why would I even talk about this, right? Because I also want to see more people involved in church. And I don’t mean to donate money. I mean so they have a place they can go to learn more about who God is. So that they can learn to create a relationship with God, they way he meant us to do.
But we also need to remember what a church really actually is. It isn’t a building to go and pray quietly. A church is a group of people who get together to rejoice and praise in the name of Jesus. A church is a group of people who help us learn, heal, and grow. It is not a courtroom for us to sit and be judged by the jury. The only person to walk this earth without sin, was Jesus Christ himself.
So, the next time you think about what a Christian is, or what a church is, please keep this in mind. You don’t need a building to worship the Lord. He supplied us with our hearts, and that is building enough. Let’s go out and use it!!!