"So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised."
~ Hebrews 10: 35,36
This past week I noticed two large church buildings sitting along the side of the road. Both with "For Sale" signs in the front yard. Once thriving communities of faith, over time, having lost the ability to sustain themselves for various reasons, have closed their doors.
Often we think of churches as symbols of faith. The simple truth is this. We will always be the symbol of God's faith in the world.
One of the lessons I learned early in life is that as a Christian we are to be in the world without being of the world. Lately I have heard people make remarks that may be translated, "we are to be in the church, but not of the church."
Churches seem to have become a place where events of the world seem to be played out as well. Shootings, theft, political protests and even hecklers have made the world take note that the church is no longer a sacred place.
More and more I hear people say that they are one faith tradition but that they don't attend because they don't like organized religion. I have to admit, there are times that I completely understand.
As I have witnessed churches become politically involved in local issues, or struggle to proclaim vision, or simply must decide what the church will be, I have to sit back and just ask myself, "is this really the expression of Christ?"
The Spirit of the living God came so that we may have a comforter. Something that would bring peace, while infusing life. Much of what I have witnessed over the last decade is the dismembering of the hands and feet of Christ, and the paralyzing of our ability to live out our faith.
Somewhere along the way, the church has become so much like the world that it's hard to distinguish what is of Christ, and what is of humanity.
I love my faith tradition. The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) is both affirming and challenging. It is both embracing and embarking. At times, however, it becomes complacent and compromising. Our earliest leaders reminded us to speak where scripture speaks, and to be silent where scripture is silent.
The challenge for any of us today is to remember that we are created by God and called by God for a greater purpose. We have been created by God to be a witness to the world. Somehow we seem to have lost sight that being a witness doesn't mean that we make examples out of one another.
I hope that today each of us can find strength to love one another as God has loved us. That we boldly be hands and feet, and give life to our faith.
Trust that you can walk. Trust that you can speak and be a voice. Trust that you are not alone. Simply be Christ.
Stay in God's grip!
G. Todd Williams (c) 2017
Rev. G. Todd Williams lives in the Houston metro area and is a Hospice Chaplain and ordained Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) pastor.