Yesterday I told our congregation about a conversation I had with one of our newer members. This member did not grow up attending church and, consequently, had no expectations of following Jesus. He didn’t even know what that meant.
As life went by, he made some mistakes that brought harsh consequences to his life – and he knew something had to change. Through a series of events and people, he started visiting our congregation. At Alameda, he was enthusiastically welcomed and invited to participate in our church activities. He was given instruction on God’s Word and taught what it means to live as a follower of Jesus Christ. As he got more involved with our church family, he found a community that provided him with the support and accountability he needed to walk with Christ every day.
As this member was reflecting on all of this with me he said, “Rusty, this church saved my life.”
Now, the truth is that Jesus is saving this man’s life. But that man came to know Jesus because the church showed him Jesus by how they welcomed him, treated him, shared their lives with them, opened the Bible with him, and constantly ministered to him. By living the good news of Jesus, the church became good news to this man and inspired him to give his life to Jesus, who is transforming this man’s life for the better.
But wait there’s more…
This man has recently baptized three people into Christ!
I love this story for many reasons.
But today I love it because it demonstrates how God still uses the church to make himself and his will known in the world. And when the church orders itself around the gospel of Christ and demonstrates the way of Christ, others are able to see and experience just how good the news about Jesus truly is.
Please don’t become so cynical and jaded that you can’t see the work that God is doing in the world through the church. The church of Jesus Christ is still a great source of hope for the world and, through the church, God is still transforming lives, bringing healing to a world broken by sin and marred by suffering, and restoring the spiritually lost to their Savior.
And when the church gets it right…it is a beautiful thing.