In “Counter Culture”, David Platt writes, “When we observe our churches today, do they look like groups of people who gather with one another as they give their lives to spreading the gospel among unreached people, impoverished communities, abandoned orphans, lonely widows, dying babies, sex slaves, and suffering brothers and sisters around the world?” His conclusion is the same as my own: we do not.
His question comes straight from the Bible (Matthew 25:31-41; James 1:27; Isaiah 58:6), and reflects God’s will for each of our lives. It’s sad enough most of us are not dedicating our own lives to this, but absolutely tragic we as a body of believers are not marshalling our forces to combat these evils in the world.
This is not a blanket indictment of all churches, but in my experience and observation, a large number of churches are great at providing entertainment and even a few mission trips but few could honestly answer Mr. Platt’s question in a positive way. In our culture, we tend to choose churches where we feel comfortable and enriched by the music and sermons. But we’ve got this twisted. We should come together as a body of believers to enrich the lives of others, not ourselves.
In fact, in all of our lives, the focus must be on others and not us. Most of the problems we go to church hoping to have fixed could be resolved by simply putting Jesus and others before our own needs. It’s hard to get into debt when you are buying only the necessities and giving your excess to help others. Marital problems tend to stem from one or both parties selfishly asserting their needs aren’t being met. We could eliminate those concerns if we focused only on meeting the needs of others (including our spouses) instead. As for addictions of all varieties, it’s really difficult to become addicted to something when you first ask if that substance or activity is honoring to God.
My point is the root of most of our problems comes from a misplaced focus on ourselves. We then go to church once a week wanting to hear a message addressing our struggles and concerns. It’s so backwards and frustrating. This isn’t what the early church was about, and it flies in the face of every command of Jesus.
Jesus said to go into the world around us telling them of the love of God (Matthew 28:19-20). He said to show them this love by caring for the widows and orphans, feeding the hungry, giving water to the thirsty, shelter to the homeless, caring for the sick and imprisoned, and breaking the chains of slavery (Matthew 25:31-41; James 1:27; Isaiah 58:6). Why are we not talking about these things in church? Even more importantly, why are we not as a body doing something about it?
There are some churches focused on these issues but they are too few and too far between. If you are fortunate to attend a fellowship like this, dive in with both feet. If your church is more focused on providing resources to entertain and make you comfortable, I encourage you to leave with both feet! Church is not for us. It is to join with other believers to do the things Jesus told us to do. That is the purpose of church. Let’s make certain we are doing our part to contribute to this mission.