While I admire believers who feel like they should always be in church, I often wonder what impact the church really has on its local community. Of course, the church is not a building where we meet to worship, it is totally comprised of the people that come together to worship the one and only Lord of the universe. However, after being reminded in this Scripture again today, I wonder if God looks any more favorable on church attendance, or on what the church does outside of the 4 walls where we meet. Please reread the Scripture and meditate with me, as God ministers to you and I.
BIBLE REFERENCE: Mark 2:15-17
TRANSLATION: New Living Translation (NLT)
BIBLE TEXT: 15 Later, Levi invited Jesus and his disciples to his home as dinner guests, along with many tax collectors and other disreputable sinners. (There were many people of this kind among Jesus’ followers.) 16 But when the teachers of religious law who were Pharisees saw him eating with tax collectors and other sinners, they asked his disciples, “Why does he eat with such scum?” 17 When Jesus heard this, he told them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.”
OBSERVATION: While I admire believers who feel like they should always be in church, I often wonder what impact the church really has on its local community. Of course, the church is not a building where we meet to worship, it is totally comprised of the people that come together to worship the one and only Lord of the universe. However, after being reminded in this Scripture again today, I wonder if God looks any more favorable on church attendance, or on what the church does outside of the 4 walls where we meet. Please reread the Scripture and meditate with me, as God ministers to you and I.
APPLICATION: I found it very interesting how Jesus chose unlikely people to follow Him – fishermen; tax collector; etc. Then there was also another surprise when He sat at the home of Levi, a tax collector, to dine with friends and associates of Levi. In fact, the Pharisees openly showed their dismay over seeing Jesus dine with such people. But let’s examine why this appears as a surprise to us. First of all, and probably the most likely cause, is that the Pharisees hung out with other Pharisees and did not associate with the Gentiles. They considered themselves above the normal citizen, because of their knowledge, power and position. Now moving to current-day Christians, why might this story surprise us? Well, in the world of Christendom, we are ‘supposed’ to hang with other Christians. We were taught that to hang with unbelievers, we might soon assume their worldly view of anything goes, no respect or love for others, among many other things. We are taught by the church that we are to attend every possible service held at the church. We are quickly scolded if we are seen in places where ‘Christians don’t go’! Anything wrong with this picture so far? Probably not, but will we have opportunity to witness to the unsaved in any of these ‘likely’ places? Probably not. But think about this: did Jesus sin by sitting and eating with the group at dinner that night? Is it a sin if we sat and ate with a room full of business executives who never attend church? I believe the answer is clearly ‘No’, for there were no commands of God that were dishonored or disobeyed. In fact, the opposite might be true. There were opportunities to be a witness to the unsaved, and wide-opened opportunities to share the love of Christ, and the Good News with a number of people eating with you. At a cocktail party for local businesses I remember coming across the head elder from my church. He had his glass in hand, just like the rest of us, but it was filled with refreshing Coca Cola. You see, he was ‘in the world’ through the normal course of business, but he was not ‘of the world’ by participating in the drinking of alcohol, per his personal beliefs. So in our Scripture today, I believe that God may be calling out to say ‘follow the example of my Son’, don’t set so many rules that you are crippled in being a living witness for our Lord to those who have not chosen to follow Him yet. Of course this comes with many cautions. If you are a recovering alcoholic, please don’t place yourself right smack in the middle of a party where alcohol is served. If you have been the subject of human smuggling and/or human slavery, don’t place yourself in the middle of a group that will refresh those fears and hurts. I believe that God would have us use common sense about how far to go, and to find the right opportunities for meeting with folk that He is actively working on already. Seek God first, and all this will come to you by His Holy Spirit. We may often come across to the world as Mr or Mrs ‘Goodie Too Shoes’ if we feel we are too good to join a friend in certain activities at certain places other than the church, but when you are guided by the Holy Spirit, His work will be accomplished through you – even in those places.
PRAYER: Precious Lord, You know first hand how trapped we are in this wicked world. We receive emails and texts, but we have to first discern if they are legitimate or if they are merely traps to sabotage our electronic world. Satan is actively trying to trap us also in our daily lives, and we must always have our guard up. Please Lord, give us the wisdom to know the things You would have us do, and the places You would have us visit, for the meetings You have scheduled for us to influence an unbeliever for the Kingdom. Please help us to always be open to the direction ordered by the Holy Spirit and help us to always stay strong in our faith, so that the world will see Jesus, and not the weakness and failures of our own selves. May our mission always be about the One that we love, adore and serve, and may Your work be accomplished through us so that mankind may be drawn to You, and where You may be glorified. AMEN!