I’ve been thinking a LOT about the nature of the Church in America, how we do some things right, how we do some things seemingly wrong, how we miss the mark so often by getting distracted and becoming like social clubs, how it seems we’ve failed in being life-saving stations. I’ve swayed so far on the continuum that I’ve wondered the purpose of meeting every Sunday to sing songs and have “church.” What is the point in all this that we do week after week, God? Is this accomplishing your mission for us??
This morning God showed me that it’s still good. Meeting for worship with other believers, other “sheep” is still a very good thing. There’s nothing wrong with it – it’s just not all there is. When we meet we encourage one another, we get help shifting our focus back to God, we hear from God’s Word, we gain new insights and direction, we hopefully hear testimonies of how God is at work in other people’s lives, we celebrate how good God is together, we sing, we pray together. It’s still good! As a church we just can’t stop or stay there. Our mission is to get out and share hope and Jesus with everyone who hasn’t believed yet. How do we do that? That’s the million dollar question!
I guess I was comforted this morning as God opened my eyes to see that there’s nothing wrong with our weekly gatherings for those who already believe to come together and worship. He blessed all of us in our time of worship at my church today. He was so real, the joy in our singing so palpable, the testimonies moving and heartfelt, the Word of God powerful and relevant. The message today was about how Jesus is the Gate and the Good Shepherd. At night the shepherds of Jesus’ day would gather the flock, funnel them through the gate and into a pen or cave for the night to be safe. The shepherd would call each by name and as they entered, would look them over to see if they had wounds that needed attention or burrs removed, etc. He would also give them water so they wouldn’t thirst and wouldn’t try to wander off during the night. The shepherd himself would sit or lay across the opening as the “gate” to keep the sheep in the pen.
The sheep didn’t spend their whole lives in the pen, though! The shepherd would take them out every day and lead them to pastures and new places. I guess our weekly worship time is kind of like entering the pen for a short time. Jesus calls us by name and draws us, then looks us over as we enter His house, applies salve to our wounds, allows us time to gather and be encouraged from the company of our fellow sheep, and watches over us. Then as we leave the church building, we go on the big adventure with Him! He’s always looking out for more sheep to add into the flock and we’re supposed to help.
I’m so encouraged and thankful for this revelation God’s given me today. It is relieving a big load of guilt I’ve been putting upon myself. There’s no need to be down on all that we do as a church, we just need to keep open minds and hearts for direction on how to make sure we keep our mission in mind.
© copyright Michele Klotz 2009