God's word in today's world

A tough one

Philippians 4:10-20

I didn’t want to write about this for fear of stepping on some toes. But it weighs on me and I can’t keep quiet.

Let me say at the outset: I’m not against the church. A friend called me. He wanted to distribute the Crossroad books at church. But the pastor objected. He said I was against the church.

My friend asked me to contact the pastor and tell him in all honesty how much I loved the church. It’s where I was trained. I believe the church is the place where people need to refuel for their journey through life. It’s where we can experience the community of believers. It’s where we are taught and where we can ask questions. It’s where we can learn, live, laugh and serve together. Every child of God needs to be part of a community of believers somewhere.

That’s how I feel about the church, the body of Christ.

Jesus and Paul did not have a good experience of the church of that time and spoke up about it often: 15… when I first left Macedonia province, venturing out with the Message, not one church helped out in the give-and-take of this work …

What a heavy charge against those congregations.

A year ago I visited another country to get information for an upcoming tour. I needed to find people to advise me. In every town I visited people volunteered to assist. Then I got a clever plan and e-mailed all the ministers and pastors asking for an appointment. I simply wanted to use them as a sounding board and maybe get advice from them.

Not even one volunteered. One did respond, but clearly indicated that I shouldn’t visit him, because he didn’t think he could make a contribution.

I was so disappointed and the stress nearly made me cancel the tour.

However, the visit was an enormous success and eventually I tried to make sense of the churches’ non-involvement by saying to myself that they were probably too busy with their own stuff. And that they must get many similar requests …

In Jesus’ time the church was so caught up in their own understanding of the Word that they missed Jesus’ coming and resurrection completely. They were so busy with their own things that they missed Paul’s message of salvation. If they only listened. If they were not as inward focused, life hereafter could have become an amazing reality for them too.

Why am I telling you this? We all form part of a community of believers. We must ensure that we, the people around us, our community of faithful do not grow inward to the extent that we miss the people that God sends to us. Evaluate yourself. Ask others what they think. Be in God’s presence quietly. Reflect on what you do.

Are you making a difference in the community? I always ask this simple question: If I and my group was destroyed by a bomb today, would the rest of the community miss us?

Not an easy question, but a necessary one that needs to be revisited often to get the right answers.


Are your doors open?

Are you really making a difference?

Are others complacent?


Father, we know that You want to make a difference here on earth through us. But sometimes we are so busy with our own plans and programmes that we are not available for You to work through us. Please forgive us and help us to look away from ourselves and to look up to You so that we can be useful to You. Amen


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