Lost in Church

I have to just accept the fact, God loves me, whether I like it or not.  Once in a while a pastor receives a wonderful phone call from someone who heard the Gospel.  Not that he heard it for the first time, but for whatever reason the ridiculous love of God in Jesus Christ finally opened his eyes.

I remember when I first realized the complete grace of God and it brought me out of darkness and into His arms. I was in my late 20’s and had been participating in a church my whole life. This is not to say I was not a believer or saved, but I did not really grasp the central point of the Scriptures and Christianity: God saves people totally by His action on our behalf.

We often speak of ‘the lost’ in terms of non-believers, unchurched, de-churched, etc. When we listen to Jesus’ wonderful parable about a prodigal son, we focus on the son who ran away and not the one who stayed home the whole time. Yet, the one who was angry at his father’s quick, no questions asked reception, was just as lost as his younger brother.  His whole life he heard and saw his father’s love for him, yet only considered himself a worker on the farm. He thought his dad was paying him for his obedience! So, his father rushed out to him just as he did for the once lost baby of the family.

When a pastor assumes all those gathered and serving are found, he tends to focus his preaching, teaching and visits on things, good things, other than the Gospel.  We got this down now let us get to work. We must go and save the lost sheep, but sometimes the lost sheep are in the pen. Like the oldest boy who worked on his dad’s farm, their concept of a relationship with God hangs on them. They are not free. Does it mean they are an unbeliever? No, but they are not enjoying what Christ has won for them in their day-to-day lives! Are they not listening? Not necessarily, but they are not really hearing either.

Goodness knows even the most mature Christian who understands how we are saved by grace through faith needs to hear it every day.  The narrative of the world and our own sins Satan keeps shoving in front of us need to regularly be cast as far as the east is from the west. A church which does not invest in preaching the Good News to her own people will struggle to preach it to those who adhere to any other faith.  Instead, they will look more like farmhands finding more people to work on the ranch.

And parents who bring your kids to church, share your hope in Christ with them during the week. May they see it reflected in your own words and actions of grace in their lives. Wives tell your husbands over breakfast. Husbands speak it with roses. Like Adam and Eve, the marriage and family are the first church you belong to. Do not assume they know or hear it. Put it on your doorposts and mantels, rehearse it over dinner. The Good News of Christ for sinners is for the found as much as it is for the lost!

Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.