Three years ago I launched a mission with the intent purpose to save lives, not in the spiritual sense, but in the literal physical sense. Dead people cannot hear the gospel, can they? But a victim of a disaster who is grateful for saving their lives or the lives of their family, is fertile soil for witnessing your love and compassion to strangers and they might just want to ask what compels you to such sacrifice and action.
Category: The Church
A popular church word people throw out these days is the word “authenticity”. It speaks of those in the gathering being real and speaking their mind, but ironically in many of the churches who speak of this authenticity, no one actually speaks anything at all of their mind. Lights go out. Band plays. Cue Video. Pastor walks on to the stage, tells a cool story, combined with a quick Bible verse about love (makes us say “awww), forgiveness (makes us cry), or giving (makes us cringe). In the end, a few stick around to talk about the weather or sports, but most leave quickly because of the things they have to do in real life.
One Sunday morning I sat on a red padded pew with bright stained glass all around me, and I worshipped. I worshipped when the horrible hymn droned on for every freaking verse. I worshipped when the children’s message focused on an age group that did not exist in the present group of people. I worshipped during the liturgical prayers that asked God to forgive the church corporately for their selfishness and pride. And I worshipped as the pastor spoke from the book of John on a passage I’d heard a million times before.
1050 men singing their hearts out “I belong to You!” It’s cool outside in the beautiful and plush Waterville Valley two hours north of Boston in the White Mountains, but hot and stuffy in the local Ice area. The men lift their hands to God, amidst the strobe lights, fog machines, and the driving band leading the way.
Not to be outdone, John, the disciple who Jesus loved, in his golden years vividly describes a vision he has of a world sized worship service focused on Jesus.
“And then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea. They sang:
“Blessing and honor and glory and power
belong to the one sitting on the throne
and to the Lamb forever and ever.”
Every creature everywhere. That’s a lot of creatures, not to mention humans.
There are other scenes like these, especially in John’s Revelation, and I’ve heard these passages preached about eloquently and often in my life, but nowhere, and I mean nowhere, do these descriptions ever give the name of an individual church organization as a catalyst for launching this incredible worship scenario. Unless the twenty elders is a representation of Hillsong, then I will gladly admit I’m wrong.
So why is it so easy to feel like you’re a follower of Jesus in the wilderness if you don’t belong to a church organization?
When Mario got out of prison and went to church, he set two goals for himself. First, he wanted to give away more money than he spent on drugs and alcohol, and second, he wanted to be the opposite of his father. Mario’s dad physically abused all of his kids, and fed Mario alcohol in his bottle as an infant. Being the opposite of his dad wasn’t going to take much, but sometimes the internal conflict that thought brings can produce its own difficulties. Mario struggles with anger. Mario struggles with trust. But he fights those things with service. He serves this Haitian community by giving it money and food.