Why I Love the Church – The People

October 3, 2013


So when was the last time a headline read, Teacher Spends Free Time Helping Kids or Attorney Assists Immigrants to Become Citizens or Priest Spends Night in Hospital With Dying Patient?

Each of these “headlines” is true. I have known people who did these things. But no one, except the people involved, was aware of it.

We all understand what makes news. It isn’t the day in, day out hard work of good and faithful people. Instead, news is something that is different, extraordinary. News is something so unusual or spectacular that it captures our attention.

This is why it is dangerous to make generalizations based on headlines and news reports. By its very nature, news is anomalous, atypical.

I bring this up because I think public opinion regarding Christianity is being shaped incorrectly by headlines. Sure, scandalous events happen in “the church.” But one ought not assume that these tragic, individual events are universal truths.

To conclude from news headlines that “the church” is corrupt, power hungry, oppressive and other critical descriptions is to disparage individuals who are in no way involved in these lamentable situations. And, that just doesn’t seem fair.

Part of the problem may be one of terminology. There really is no such thing as “the church”. That is because church is people. People come in many different varieties, including some who do bad stuff.

But my experience, having been a Christian for half of my life, is that most Christians are everyday people. And the vast majority of them are inclined to do good stuff. Let me tell you about a few I have known.

• There was a powerful, affluent attorney who left his law practice to help start and run a medical clinic for poor, underserved people.
• There was a single woman who moved to Honduras to help orphans and street kids. Not only did she open a ministry but she adopted eight children.
• There was the brilliant musician, song writer, poet who moved to Pakistan, started a fish farm and ministered to the people there.
• There was the elderly woman whose physical infirmities prevented her from doing much. But she was a go to person if ever there was a prayer need.
• There was the business executive who loved teaching and playing with kids. He used his charm and wit to help kids understand Jesus and what it means to be a Christian.

There is a name and a face associated with each of these people. But you won’t see them on TV news or read their names in news accounts. They did what they did because of their Christian faith. That is what moved them to serve. And they did so in a quiet, unassuming, giving way.

And let’s not forget the people who live regular lives but who take time to bring a meal to a sick person or to comfort a grieving friend or to listen to another’s burdens. These acts of kindness aren’t as spectacular as beginning a ministry in a faraway land. But they are the normal, everyday stuff of the hundreds of Christians I have known.

These individuals are “the church” every bit as much as the scoundrels whose names and faces appear on news reports. Actually, they are more “the church” because they outnumber the bad guys by a ratio of probably millions to one. More importantly, they are “the church” because they follow Jesus and seek to be like him. And I love that.

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