I have been giving a lot of thought about what the role of the Church is. I have been involved in some pretty passionate discussions on Facebook the last few days about how people feel that Christianity is being oppressed in the America. I have to disagree. I have to ask, is the government closing your Church? Is the government preventing you from attending the Church of your choice, or are they telling you that you have to attend this Church. Okay pray is gone from public school and we cannot put a Christmas tree on some Town Commons, but I say good ridden to that. This past Christmas I was all over the no Tree on the Common stuff and was writing, on this very blog, how bad that was. But the more I think about it the less I care about it. I heard a story today that clergy in the Sudan are not allowed to dress in clerical clothes or they could be shot. I would call that oppression. Being told you cannot wear a cross or a shirt with religious sayings on it is far from the same thing.
Yes our country is secular and I am okay with that. In a country with freedom of religion I don’t want my government to have any signs of religion because the religion they choose might be in opposition to mine.
So what then is the role of the Church in our secular society? Is it the Churches role to change society? I would have to say no. The Church exists for one reason and one reason only, your salvation. Noting more, nothing less. If you worry about your salvation then the rest of the world will take care of itself.
Scripture tells us that we need to do two things, Love the Lord your God and Love your neighbor as yourself. Are we doing that?
Matthew 25:31-46 lays out the mission of the Church in pretty clear terms. So you don’t need to run for your Bible I will quote it below:
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne, and all the nations will be assembled before him. And he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’ Then the righteous will answer him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’ And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’ Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, a stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.’ Then they will answer and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?’ He will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.’ And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
If we need to know what we should be doing as Church then we need to read Matthew each and everyday. That is what it means to be Church and that is the role of the Church. Feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the sick and those in prison, welcome the foreigner. Are we doing that or are we more concerned with building palaces then we are about the needs of our fellow man. When did it become the government’s responsibility to do this? How much more of the mission of the Church do we want Uncle Sam to take over? Perhaps we could all go to Town Hall on Sunday and the Town Clerk could pass out communion?
We work out our salvation in the Church, we do this by living the Gospel life and Matthew 25 is as clear as it gets.
The Church does not exist to make you feel good about yourself that is the last thing the Church should be about. It is not about your entertainment, it is about your salvation and how we go about that. The Church is the hospital of the soul not an entertainment venue where we need the latest thing, where the preacher wears blue jeans. The Church is down and dirty, the Church is the poor, the hungry, the lonely, the naked, and yes, the foreigner. These are not suggestions there are requirements, Gospel requirements. The Church is the leper in Calcutta or the homeless person on the street. The Church does not judge why they are that way, the Church just gets in there and gets dirty and finds solutions to the problem. That’s the Church in action.
Several years ago I was listening to a radio broadcast by Dave Ramsey. Dave Ramsey is working to get America out of debt. He says live like no one else so you can live like no one else. He is also quoted as saying the Church should give the government out of business. In other words, we need to be and do Matthew 25 no the government. Uncle Sam is not good at it. The Church is. Since the early days of the Church, the Church has been taking care of people and we need to get back to our mission.
How do we change society, not with protests and calling our Senators and Representatives, we change Society by being the change we want to see. We change society by working out our own salvation and then helping our neighbor. Helping our neighbor not out f some obligation we feel we have to have but we do it out of love, Christian love. We love others because God first loved us!
“I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.’ And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”