This post is obviously directed at those who are going to church somewhere. If you’re not a part of a local congregation, you need to read this post.
I have sermons planned out for the next five weeks. One of the weeks will be about two people who die in Acts 5 (Ananias and Sapphira) for lying to the Holy Spirit. It’s a hard thing to understand that God would strike them dead, but that’s exactly what we’re told happened. You can read Acts 5 here. Afterward Acts 5:11 says great fear come upon the church and all those in the community when they heard about Ananias and Sapphira dropping over dead. Duh. People had to be wondering who was next. Can you imagine what people in the community were saying about the church? It’s one thing to be a seeker and entirely different claiming to be something you’re not. While this seems harsh, it was a defining moment in the early church. Fake followers would not be tolerated. That was surely one of the main things they had to be saying about the church. They gained the reputation that they not only talked the talk, but they also walked the walk. And if you were going to fake it, don’t bother. God knew it and there could be dire consequences.
When I was pastor in Mason, early on I asked the congregation what the church was known for in the community. There were two things – Making Apple Butter and the Church Chimes. Neither of those are bad things. I remember telling them that within a year, the people in the community would be saying about our church, “That church cares about our community”. And I believe that with the Spirit’s help and for Jesus’ glory we accomplished that. I pray for them all the time that they remain that type of church. We stand a much better chance of introducing the lost to Jesus if we show them we care about them in His Name. And many followers of Jesus who are disenfranchised with the church can be won back to the church when they see the love of Jesus coming from the church.
And anyone who knows me knows that I don’t subscribe to an “I’m OK, you’re OK – all roads lead to heaven” mentality. We are reminded by the story of Ananias and Sapphira that there is a time and a place to stress sin and the need for repentance and forgiveness available through Jesus. But for us, even that is motivated by love. And if God decides to get rid of a few people in the church (one way or another) at defining moments of the church, He has every right. It’s His church. I just don’t want to be one of the ones He feels the need to get out of the way. How about you?