Becoming a Healthier Church: What are the Walls For?-April 17, 2013
Walls of a structure can be built to keep people out. It is a sad truth that many churches have built walls to keep people out. Which people might be kept out? Perhaps as many walls are built to protect those within from those outside the walls. This may be protecting, “our church” from “those people” or “sinners” you know who I mean. They may be the very ones who really need to be there but what if we let them in? We’ve got to get them a little more like us before we can let them in. After all we have worked hard to get this church to where it is and I don’t want anyone or anything to change it. It worked for me and my kids, the world just needs to figure out this is the way we do things. It is the right way.
The walls can go up fast and often times can be lopsided or unstable. These types of walls stunt the growth of unity in the body and demonstrate an unwillingness to move that is closer to spiritual immaturity rather than the maturity Christ is seeking in His body. If you will remember most of the gospel accounts record times when Jesus was at odds with the Jewish leadership, the Pharisees. Early in the ministry of Christ these conflict came because Jesus was not doing things the way the Jewish leadership said they had to be done. One of the repeated criticisms was that He ate with and kept company with sinners. Many times it was in their homes. Later in His ministry it was Jesus revealing His identity as God’s Son which they considered blasphemy.
How many unbelievers do you know? If pushed most of us could name a few, but how many of us spend regular time with unbelievers in a redemptive way. Sure it’s easy to go sit at a softball game, or talk about the news, weather, or television show, but about Jesus and God most would rather not. We do not make ourselves available for that. What would they think if I were to come off too strong and what would my Christian friends think if they saw me with them?
The reality will then become that most will seek to preserve their protective church walls, and integrate a few into the fold here or there that seem to understand “how we do things around here.” This is not the church that Christ loved so much that He died to redeem. This is not what Christ intents for His body to be actively doing in the world today. We are disciples by both teaching and imitation and so we should do as Christ did and reach out in a redemptive way to the world around us.
It is during this time that the walls can be built for a different purpose. Have you ever noticed how many Christian churches have a steeple? How many of those churches also have at the top of that same steeple a cross? Christ is what the church stands for He is their reason for being. He should be at the center of all we are saying and doing. That cross on a steeple would not be lifted up for so many to see if the physical walls were built lopsided or were too inward leaning or outward leaning.
The same is true for the spiritual walls of the church we must first remember that our foundation if it is to be solid, biblical, and Christian starts with Christ as the head of the church. Secondly, we must get past the fears that seek to paralyze the body of Christ into inactivity. In this there is life in a sense but very little activity. Now we must build up strong sturdy walls that can withstand difficulties that seek to destroy the church both from the outside as well as the inside. We will need to come together in unity of purpose and spirit, not for the purpose of preservation but becoming healthy and mature in Christ building up His body. This means not only studying His word but following His example.
There must be balance to build up the body into health. It would look foolish to see a body builder who only worked out his arms but not his legs, or a ballet dancer who worked only on her strength and not her flexibility. In the same way the body of Christ must be built in a balanced way to receive strength from within and grace and courage to move out and be His presence in the world today.
When the spiritual walls are build up then the cross of Christ is lifted up as well. In His sacrifice, death, and resurrection we find grace, life, and freedom to live for Him in these dark and hopeless times. Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount describes who we are to be in the world. We are to be salt and light, in a world that has grown dark and tasteless. The unbelieving world needs to see that in these difficult days we will not rush to judge, ridicule, or become overwhelmed but that we will be that light on a hill. This is why we are being built up to be a light on a hill.
“Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good deeds, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:16
Remember my dear friends that light does not have a voice, but its brilliance and warmth speaks hope in times of darkness, and comfort in times of despair, and brings peace in unsettling times. The world needs to see the light of His glory and grace. The church is being built up to be that light on a hill and then to go and be His presence in the world.
As You Go Let Your Light Shine!!