Summary: Jesus came to heal those sick with sin. That means the church is meant to be a hospital for those weighed down with guilt. But what can a church do better heal those lost in their shame?
A Russian soldier was wounded and was ordered to go to military hospital for treatment. When he arrived he found two doors: One was marked, ‘For the slightly wounded,’ and the other, ‘For the seriously wounded’. Well, he wasn’t seriously wounded so he entered through the first door and found himself going down a long hall. At the end of it were two more doors. One marked, ‘For officers’ and the other, ‘For nonofficers’. Since he wasn’t an officer he entered through the 2nd door and found himself going down another long hall. At the end of it were two more doors. One marked, ‘For party members’ and the other, ‘For nonparty members’. Since wasn’t a party member he took the second door, and found himself out on the street.
When got home, his mother asked him, “How did you get along at the hospital?” “Well Mother,” he said, "to tell the truth, the people there didn’t do anything for me, but you ought to see the tremendous organization they have!”
What was that hospital supposed to be doing? Well, it was SUPPOSED to be treating the sick and wounded. That’s what hospitals do (or they’re supposed to do). But apparently, that hospital didn’t get the memo! They didn’t DO what they were supposed to do. In fact, they didn’t DO anything for that soldier.
Now, over the next few weeks we’re going to be asking ourselves - “What is the Church Supposed to be doing?” Why do we exist? What’s our purpose! And the topic we’re looking at here is seeing the Church as a hospital. Church - a place where we treat the sick and wounded.
And that is what we’re supposed to do because that what Jesus came to do. The prophet Isaiah said that the Messiah (Jesus) would be “Anointed… to preach good news to the poor. He (would be) sent… to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed.” Luke 4:18
So, is that what Jesus did? Well, that’s what He SAID He came to do. Jesus said to them, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have NOT come to call the righteous, but sinners." Mark 2:17
Jesus came to deal with sin-sick souls. To help the helpless, to fix the broken, to strengthen the weak. And, of course, that’s what the church is supposed to do. We are to preach good news to the poor, proclaim freedom for the prisoners, give sight to the blind, to release the oppressed from that which drags them down.
That’s what churches are supposed to do… but sometimes they get distracted!
FOR EXAMPLE: Sometimes they get distracted by their tremendous organizational structure. They know exactly where everything should be and how things should function… and to make sure their tremendous organizational structure works as it should Church leaders micro-manage everything. Every decision has to be funneled through higher-ups whether it be denominational leaders or local elders.
ILLUS: A missionary to the Ukraine sent a letter to the editor of Christianity Today (replying to an article in a previous edition of the magazine) “I agree… that doing missionary work outside a denomination is difficult; I've lost individ¬ual support, gone into debt, and at times worked while on furlough in the States… Although denominational missionar¬ies have retirement plans, savings, and insurance, many are deeply frustrated by the centralized control of how and where they serve. In my experience, the denominational missionaries accomplish much less than the "I hope I have enough money this month" nondenoms.” (Jake Knotts Chernigov, Ukraine letter to the editor of Christianity Today, August 2010)
Now, we don’t do that here. This church has never been worried about controlling things. You’ve got good Elders who don’t feel he need to micro-manage every decision made in every ministry. They serve with a firm but gentle hand… and they trust people to do their ministries faithfully. If someone wants to take on a ministry involving the church building, they DO need to present their dream to the Elders. Then the Elders ask only one question: “Is this ministry designed to reach out to the lost?” If the answer is “yes” the Elders give their blessing (and sometimes even financial help). But those who DO the ministry have total control of the day-day decisions. And what I’ve noticed is, that when those who do ministries here believe that something might cost more money than expected, or might have “consequences” they hadn’t foreseen, they will go to the Elders for approval and insight. In other words, if you give people freedom to serve Christ, they try to prove themselves worthy of the trust you’ve placed in them.
So sometimes, churches get distracted because the leadership wants to have total control. Other times churches get distracted because they tend to fall in love with their buildings.