Can I impress you that guilt is the poorest of motivators for people to seek the help and healing Jesus offers? Too often this is the message that those ‘outside’ the four walls of our church building ‘hear’. It may not even be what the church is communicating or trying to communicate but it is what is ‘heard’.
Jesus says he does not come to condemn but to save (John 3:17). The Adversary is the one who condemns, and he needs no help! The Gospel is the good news of God’s love and invitation to a lost and hurting humanity. It is this love and invitation that marks a fruitful presentation of the Gospel.
I see people who draw near because of their pain. They are all too aware of the wreckage that has become their life. They often hesitate from true repentance because they fear facing this wreckage and reliving the pain! They cannot bear to look at it one more time. Life has become an exercise in avoiding or numbing these events and feelings.
If we have not communicated by word and deed, the love of God, our friends will not feel safe enough. The idea of bringing all that hides in the darkness into the light is beyond daunting if there is no hope of acceptance and forgiveness.
Such ‘word and deed communication’ is vital if we are to succeed in fruitful Christian life. We spend too little time examining what we are communicating. I think we need to pause often and ask, “What are we saying to the world around?” Perhaps we could even ask folks outside our church family what they are ‘hearing’ from us.
Is our energy geared toward this declaration and demonstration of God’s love, in Christ? Do our services and programs tell the good news and equip people to live it out?
Too often I see people come with all their painful baggage. It is hidden away in darkness. They come looking for relief, but the proper groundwork has not yet been done. Like the hard packed soil in Jesus’ parable, they are resistant from real hope and change. Much work needs to be done to prepare this ‘soil’. This is not the work of the desperate person in pain. It is the groundbreaking work of the Church as it demonstrates tangibly the love of God in Christ.
I think I know, a bit, what Jesus felt as he saw the rich young ruler walk away. I see people come only to go. They go back to the darkness rather than bring those actions and feeling into the light. They do not yet feel safe enough to revisit that vile past. Who could blame them? Until we effectively demonstrate God’s inviting love, only the bravest will come.
I do not think we can be satisfied with that ‘harvest’. I believe that the world is still ‘white unto harvest’ if together we can share and show the love of God in Christ to the world. This may require considerable repentance but we of the Church can safely do so because we have received the love of God through faith in Jesus.
My $0.02 worth!