Wait, what? What is salvation? I think it is time for a back to basics lesson, because as the days get darker and time seems to be steamrolling past us, it seems like people…umm..”Christians” have forgotten the basic mandate Jesus gave us.
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age. -Matt. 28:19-20.
“Go therefore….make disciples…of all nations…”. I know later in our bibles we are told not to forsake the assembling of ourselves and other variations of gathering: Hebrews 10:25, Colossians 3:16, Acts 2:42, Acts 9:31, but in all these scriptures I did not see a mandate that church attendance is a requirement to be saved. We have veered off-track people of God!
You may be wondering where this is coming from. Well…this weekend I was “invited (for lack of a kinder word)” to church with a close relative. I guess because they think since I do not have a church “home” I am not saved. This relative had been begging me to visit their church for a while, and I truly am not a fan of visiting ministries; I am more about reaching souls for Christ and reaching out to the lost wherever I go. However, I relented because I love hearing the preached word as well. I was immediately uncomfortable as I had obviously been talked about to many people in the congregation, because some knew I recently had surgery, while others spoke as if I had been stricken with leprosy and healed and brought to church to celebrate (smile). The attention paid to my arrival was disconcerting to say the least because I am a very low-key and private person. Finally, after being introduced to many of the members and the pastor, I was able to sit and enjoy the service. Culturally it was vastly different than what I am used to, but I love diversity, and I loved the fact there were no musicians and the singing was off-key…I felt right at home!
The preached Word: Terrific. I thought, the presentation of the Word was timely and relevant. It was something we could all relate to, young and old. However, there was no follow-through. To be clear, I am also not a fan of church “altar calls”. I believe salvation and repentance are very personal issues that each of us needs to work out after receiving the Word of God. Yet, my expectation was for there to be some type of conviction preaching that would make someone examine their life. There was nothing. Ok, I told myself, all churches are different, maybe it just was not “that” week. I was still uneasy because the word was good, but what if someone new came in looking for the healing power of Jesus Christ? There was nothing there. Lot of attention from church members, singing, a scripture reading, first Sunday communion, and great video graphics, but no offering of Christ’s healing and saving power. Mmmmkay.
Post service: I am inundated with well-wishes and people wanting to meet this “lost relative”, yes I was spoken to in those terms. One person asked me if I attended a church, I told her occasionally yes, she asked me which one, and if it was the same denomination as theirs, to which I responded, “It is a non-denominational congregation ma’am”, and her response was, “Oh…(big pause) well at least it’s a church”. Shocked! Does my affiliation with a denomination, a religion, a BUILDING save me? Is my relationship with my Lord Jesus Christ suffering because I don’t belong to a certain type of church, or because my ministry is primarily outside of a concrete edifice? God forbid! Another conversation, initiated by the relative who invited me, and overheard by my husband: “We are going to keep praying that they decide to come to church here”. Huh? He knows my husband attends church elsewhere, he KNOWS how we both minister. Why would someone pray against the spirit of God, unless they don’t know the Holy Spirit personally? I was truly taken aback.
The picture above expresses how I felt after these encounters. This, dear readers, is a trap! We can get so caught up in religiosity, and tradition that we completely miss Jesus. Your life should not be based around church membership, works, appearances and numbers. Your life should be based around what Jesus did, what Paul did, what the Apostles did and what we are commanded to do: Go into all the world and make disciples of men. If church membership saved men, many of us would have to do no more than place our name on a church roster.
With that said, I am not saying inviting people to church is a bad thing at all. In fact, just the opposite, it is a wonderful thing! I just wish people would examine their own motives for doing so; if it’s for your own edification, don’t do it. If it’s to meet a building fund goal, don’t do it. If it’s so you can meet some type of personal quota…please…don’t do it. One of the church announcements yesterday was they had a goal of X number of members by the end of the year! This is unacceptable…how about X number of souls saved for Christ? We really do need to examine ourselves brothers and sisters. Our purpose for invitations to church should be to lift up the name of Jesus, only!
I try to invite someone to church every day, but my invitation is a bit different; it usually goes like this: “Do you know Jesus Christ as your personal savior? If not, may I introduce you?” It may not always work, but it has produced fruit, and that is all I am required to do outside of being baptized and taking communion. I think I will continue to be the spiritual rebel I appear to be, and continue to try to grow the family of Christ to the best of my ability. The times are getting darker and days shorter and, “I must work the works of Him who sent me while it is day because night comes when no man can work (John 9:4)”.
As always, God bless you for taking the time to read this blog.