The church as the body of Christ – being His hands and feet.
Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Matt 28:19-20
Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’ Matt 25:37-40
When we think of being the body of Christ, we don’t often think that it means we are to be the physical expression of Jesus here on earth. But I think that there is a very real part of that that God calls us to.
In my series on The Church: Building Bridges Among the Body of Christ I am looking at problems that various generations of believers have with the modern church. Apparently, this concept of going beyond the church walls to meet needs and serve others is one of the big issues of many in the younger generation.
Meeting needs first within the body of Christ.
What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself. James 2:14-17
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35
How can I make a difference?
Is your church working to make sure that those within have their needs met? Does your church care for the widows and the elderly, especially those without family (or family nearby)? Are there people in your congregation going hungry or without heat (or air conditioning in the sweltering temps)? Are we withholding help because of a judgmental spirit (like: if they have a cell phone or computer or nice car they don’t deserve our help)? Please know I’m not saying we should be foolish in our giving. I recognize we have responsibilities to be good stewards, particularly so we can help more people. But we have to be very careful about a heart of judging who is deserving and who isn’t.
If your church doesn’t make this a priority, then maybe it is something God is laying on YOUR heart.
- organize Saturday workdays to help with home repairs
- organize shopping trips to get groceries for shut-ins
- visit the elderly or needy in your congregation to just love them
- write cards of encouragement and hope and enclose a little gift
How are we serving our community?
And do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. Heb 13:16
I will be the first to admit that serving is not my gift or strength. It doesn’t mean I can’t do it, just that it is not natural for me. But I am blessed to be in a church that has made a major effort to reach out to our community through service.
For us, it began in our youth group. Our (then) youth pastor organized regular service projects for the youth. These projects were varied and required little to no experience or skill. Just a willingness to serve others.
We have summer missions trips where we go to help meet very practical needs. These have included national and international trips. A number of years ago we instituted a local mission trip: to meet practical needs within our own community. And these have opened up to include anyone in the congregation who is able and willing to help. This has really helped give an opening for the gospel to those we are reaching out to with the love of Jesus. They see our love by our deeds, not just by our words.
How can I make a difference?
If your church is not actively involved in reaching out, think about things YOU can to to begin to change the mindset.
- bring needs to the attention of your church leadership
- be willing to organize projects to help meet those needs
- perhaps a monthly afternoon service project at a soup kitchen
- contact your local chamber of commerce for ideas on how to help with community needs and be the liaison with your church leadership
Will this actually build bridges?
Since I’m focusing this series on building bridges among the saints, this is an appropriate question to ask. But, in asking this question I am not looking at how to increase church attendance. In asking this question I am seeking to find out the things the current church culture is MISSING. I am looking at the concerns of a younger generation to see where we, as a church, have dropped the ball.
In past generations, the church was starting orphanages and hospitals. We were meeting those very practical needs of the community around us. In recent years (like the past 100 or so) the government has taken up much of what the church used to do. Unfortunately, many churches have just taken a back seat and assumed that this was all the government’s job. Even worse, they take political sides against helping the needy, even through the government. This leaves us greatly neglecting the working out of our faith for the poor, needy and downtrodden.
This new generation of saints has led the call! They are passionate to:
have their lives count for the sake of others
ease the burdens of those less fortunate
show the love of Jesus through service to others
They are stirring up this passion within the body of Jesus. Stirring us up to remember who we are and who Jesus called us to be. His hands and His feet to a lost and needy world. Our faith is not a dead faith… it is a faith expressed by good deeds and love. Let’s heed the call!