I am sick of hearing about the need for Christians to live in a bubble world. Yes, we are called to be pure; to continue growing to look more and more like Jesus. But we are not called to be isolated from the world around us. We are called to GO out into this world and to LOVE people like God loves us. No strings attached.Years ago, a friend asked me "Where is the church of the 1st Century?" A church that turned the world upside down. A group of people that made an impact that still resonates centuries later. These ordinary people doing what was thought impossible. Changing lives. Feeding the poor. Freeing people from the shackles of disease and despair. Reconnecting people with God and other people. Conquering desolation through unconditional love. It was not until last week that I felt I had an answer to this question. Here is my faulty, weak, and uninspired attempt...
The church of the 1st century will not be found in any building. You'll find it in the streets of Calcutta, India where nuns seek and find the sick and dying and treat them with love and dignity. You'll find it in alleyways in our cities where the homeless receive a meal and company. You'll find it in our neighborhoods when someone shares in the grief of a friend who has lost a loved one.
When we stand before our Creator at the threshold of eternity, God will not ask us how many Bible studies or church services we attended. He won't want a list of how many Christian CDs, t-shirts, movies, books, etc. we purchased. He'll ask "Did you do what I told you to do?"
Jesus said in the Gospel of Matthew Chapter 25:31-46, "When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. "Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.' "Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?' "The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.' "Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.' "They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?' "He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.' "Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."
This is not about EARNING a relationship with God by being a "good person". Only Jesus's death on the cross for our sins made reconnection with God possible. What this is about is showing who we are by our everyday actions. If we claim to be a Christian, then we must look like Jesus.
How can we allow Jesus to so fill our being, that others can sense His presence? How can we offer Jesus food, drink, clothing, and company when we serve another? When will we stop inviting people to come to "church", and start BEING the church to those outside the bubble?
Be Jesus to someone today.