More than once I have avoided some ‘new’ or unfamiliar social scene wondering about ‘how I should act’ or if I would ‘fit in.’ However, I enjoy a new experience if someone who knows ‘how it works’ will accompany me. I’ll pass up a new restaurant for one where I know the menu, but if a friend invites me to someplace novel, I am ready to go.
When I was pastoring a local church, occasionally people told me that they would like to visit the church but that they were unsure of what was expected: how should I dress? when do I stand? will I know the music? what will be expected of me? I get it! Being in ‘church’ is as natural to me as breathing, part of my whole life, because I am an insider. Those congregants who took time to introduce someone else to our gatherings, who would offer to sit with another until they became familiar with the language and customs of our worship, brought me true joy.
We all want a place where we belong. And, yes, I believe that to be true of a spiritual home. People need a place to worship, to pray, to find care and experience God’s presence and yet many who have not been part of a church growing up, or who are searching for a new church home, are hesitant to venture into a new place of worship, unless someone offers to lead the way. Could that be you? In our crazy, unstable world one of the ways we can love others and serve Jesus is to be attentive to spiritual need and offer the act of hospitality.
With sensitivity and gentleness, we can be that person who ‘opens the door’ to a friend, a neighbor, or a family member who hungering for more in life, a hunger that will be satisfied by knowing the love of Jesus and the connection of a good, loving church home.
Paul’s words can put us off if we them read with incomplete understanding. “For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. This is the wonderful message he has given us to tell others. We are Christ’s ambassadors, and God is using us to speak to you. We urge you, as though Christ himself were here pleading with you, “Be reconciled to God!” For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.” (2 Corinthians 5:19-21, NLT)
Ours is a great privilege, serving as Christ’s representatives in this world. “But, Jerry, I’m no preacher. I don’t have a command of theology.” That misses Paul’s meaning. He says that the way we live – our compassion, our character, our hope – is a window into the world of the Father. We represent most effectively in how we live more than what we say. And, we can take a second step with just a simple invitation to a spiritually hungering friend – “Why not join me at church this week and have some breakfast afterwards with me?” That’s not too hard, is it?
This week at Faith Discovery Church we have Vacation Bible School, a week-long fun event aimed at the kids, but enjoyed equally by the adults! I listen to the shuffle of little feet moving from station to station and it makes me glad. Then, I see adults, volunteers who have taking vacation time, who have postponed trips to serve, and they are talking together, sharing life. Many of these people are not even part of our regular worship gatherings, but they love the songs, the fun, being part of the work, while spending quality time with others.
God made us social creatures. Our best life is not solitary, it is lived ‘with’ others. Is that sometimes hard? It can be. Do situations sometimes get awkward or uncomfortable? They do! Can it be hard to ‘find a good fit?’ Yes, that is true, too, for more reasons than I can explore today. But, here is a key fact, if you want to fit it, you have to show up.
Yes, that uncomfortable unfamiliarity may persist for a time. Even in church, people who have friends may not engage you at first but persevere. Show up a bit early. Stay a little longer. Listen for an opportunity to volunteer. In time, you will have found a home, too. Life will be richer, your Christian experience better.
If you are not part of a Christian church and are looking for a ‘home,’ I invite you. If you are in a church, look outward and make the effort to make a way for others to find their home, too.
That familiar passage that describes the nature of Christ’s Church is our word from the Word today. Lord, use it to increase our understanding of the importance of your Church in our spiritual life.
” The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.” (1 Corinthians 12:12-13, NIV) “God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” (1 Corinthians 12:24-27, NIV)
I don’t know where you lay your head
Or where you call your home
I don’t know where you eat your meals
Or where you talk on the phone
I don’t know if you got a cook
A butler or a maid
I don’t know if you got a yard
With a hammock in the shade
I don’t know if you got some shelter
Say a place to hide
I don’t know if you live with friends
In whom you can confide
I don’t know if you got a fam’ly
Say a mom or dad
I don’t know if you feel love at all
But I bet you wish you had
Come and go with me
To my Father’s house
Come and go with me
To my Father’s house
It’s a big big house
With lots and lots of room
A big big table
With lots and lots of food
It’s a big big yard
Where we can play football
A big big house
It’s my Father’s house
All I know is a big ol’ house
With rooms for ev’ryone
All I know is a- lots of land
Where we can play and run
All I know is you need love
And I’ve got a family
All I know is you’re all alone
So why not come with me
Barry Blair | Bob Herdman | Mark Stuart | Will McGinniss
© 1993 Up In The Mix Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing)
CCLI License # 810055