Summary: We must put aside our differences and work together for the benefit of the Kingdom.
We Are The Body?
Have you ever been to a church where you didn’t feel welcome? You went in and looked around the foyer area and no one greets you. You proceed through the doors into the sanctuary and find yourself a seat in the back row and begin to prepare yourself for the worship time. People come filing in and many are talking with one another, because it seems they all know each other, but still, no one offers a hand to be shaken or says hello. As you look around, you even notice some making eye contact with you and when they notice you seeing them, they turn away quickly or pretend they are looking beyond you at something else. The service goes by and when it is done, you linger around for a while in the foyer area again, reading some of the bulletin boards to see what things the church is involved with and still no one says boo to you. Finally you leave, feeling a bit slighted, and tell yourself you will never visit this church again.
Now let me ask you this… has that ever happened here?
I pray not. I know since I have been here, I don’t believe that has happened. The thing is, it is usually the same people who make sure to say hello or welcome new visitors. Granted, not every one of us will be taking part in making each & every visitor feel welcome when they come in the doors. Although, it is not a bad idea to at least make an effort. Even more, though, we all need to be aware of what gift(s) God has given to us, and begin exercising them. Like anything that can get rusty or run down from not being used enough, we can get the same way if we do not put into practice the gift(s) which God has given to each of us. He has given them to us for a reason. The end result is, that God be glorified through our lives. We are the body.
We all need to understand why this is so important. There are actually churches like the one I described a moment ago. Churches where visitors are treated like lower class citizens. They get ignored, looked at funny, and even judged if someone knows who they are and what lies in their past. Some people get overlooked because they aren’t as outspoken, but have a gentle, quiet spirit about them. It even happens in the body itself among the believers. We need to get out of that mentality if we are stuck there, and learn to move beyond it.
Let me share a story that illustrates the attitude of certain churches out there. It is more common than you may think.
One Sunday morning nine-year-old Joshua decided to skip church and go for a long walk. His mother frequently told him that if he skipped church, he would miss a chance to see Jesus. But Joshua had been going to church his whole life and had never seen Jesus there before, so he didn’t think he’d be missing much. Besides, his church was an old, small, run-down building—just a little too confining for his desire to run and play.Joshua’s walk took him across the railroad tracks in town for the first time in his life. He noticed that the houses on the other side of the tracks were much bigger and much nicer than any in the poor neighborhood where he lived.A few blocks later Joshua found himself in front of the biggest, most beautiful church he had ever seen. The steeple alone seemed as tall as a mountain. As he got closer, the big church bells stopped ringing and the last people filed in from the parking lot. They all had nice cars and wore nice clothes. He didn’t see any people from his side of the tracks going to this church. “This must be the church where Jesus goes,” Joshua told himself. “It’s so big and nice.” As he walked closer, he could hear the music coming from inside. He remembered hearing his mother talk about how angels sing to Jesus in heaven. “Wow!” said Joshua as he listened to the choir. “I’ll bet those are angels singing to Jesus!”He walked up the steps, through the big front doors, and into the spacious lobby. He continued through another set of doors and entered the sanctuary. It was the biggest room he had ever seen. “This must be where Jesus is!” Joshua whispered to himself.He noticed an empty seat a few rows from the back, so he sat down to scan the crowd, so he could find Jesus. The choir stopped singing and a large man in a black suit tapped Joshua on the shoulder. The man leaned down and asked Joshua if he could speak with him outside.In the lobby, the man asked, “Son, where do you live?”Joshua answered, “Well, if you go down the hill, take a left at the corner, cross the railroad tracks, and head down that street a few more blocks, that’s where I live.”“And where are your parents?” the man asked.“They’re probably at church right now,” Joshua replied.“Well, son, don’t you think it would be better for you to go to your parents’ church today?”“But I saw this church, and I knew Jesus was here,” Joshua said. “So I came to see him!”“Well, son, I think it would be best if you were to run along home and go see Jesus in your own church in your own neighborhood,” the man said. “You really can’t stay here.”Realizing what the man was trying to do, Joshua got upset. “You just don’t want me to see Jesus!” he yelled as he turned and ran out the big doors leading to the street.Sobbing as he returned home, Joshua shouted, “God, it isn’t fair! All I wanted to do was see Jesus, and they wouldn’t let me in!”Joshua shuffled along, staring at the sidewalk through his tears. Suddenly he heard footsteps behind him and felt a hand on his shoulder. He turned around, wiped his eyes, and stared in amazement.It was Jesus!The Lord smiled at Joshua, gave him a big hug, and said, “Don’t be too upset, my son. They wouldn’t let me in there either.”