Mahatma Gandhi had a famous quote: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” It’s great advice. I believe we as followers of Jesus can subscribe to a similar quote: “Be the church you are praying for”. When I pray for the body of Christ in the world, I pray we will always act in love. I pray we show grace and mercy to everyone we encounter. Perhaps most of all, I pray for unity among believers.
We are an incredibly diverse bunch, and there are as many opinions as there are Christians. Ultimately, the only thing that matters is we look like Jesus to the world around us. We can’t be the church until we demonstrate his love and beauty to everyone we meet, regardless of their ethnicity, background, or social standing.
To be the Church Christ died for, we’ve got some work to do. We have spent the last several hundred years arguing over trivial matters. We’ve burned a lot of bridges in our wake. Instead of displaying the love of Christ, we’ve alienated people. Instead of spreading the good news of Jesus, we’ve discouraged others by providing them a laundry list of “do’s and don’ts” to which few could ever perfectly adhere. We’ve turned the Gospel into just another religion. Jesus did not die for a religion; he did not die for a cause. Jesus died for individuals, people like you and me.
More than any other people, the Church cannot discriminate on any basis. We’ve lost sight of the fact Jesus loves everyone the same. The very person you are demonizing has unsurpassable worth in the eyes of Christ. Who are we to usurp God’s authority and proclaim them to be less than ourselves? Our world is in the throes of amped up rhetoric between people groups based on the pigment of their skin, the place of their birth, or the way they choose to worship. It’s got to stop, and the end will begin when followers of Jesus decide to finally be the Church Jesus came to save.
To be the Church, we as individuals must model our lives after Christ. The Church is built one person at a time. It will never be the beautiful bride waiting for Christ’s return until each of us takes responsibility for ourselves and begins to live in the manner we promised Jesus we would. We said we’d follow Him wherever. We asked Him to be the Lord of our life. We surrendered everything to Him. Where is any of that evident in our lives?
I want to see the Church be the Church I’m praying for it to become. But I recognize it begins with me. The Church will always be filled with imperfect people. Let’s stop pretending otherwise. I’m broken, imperfect, undisciplined, and downright messy. So are you. So is everyone else. Our mission is to love them anyway. Our mission is to build the Kingdom of God here on earth, and that means we’re going to have to work together. Enough of the bickering and enough of the isolation. Jesus died for everyone on this planet. You are no more special than anyone you will see today, so stop acting like you are. Let’s love like Jesus. Let’s be the Church.