Sunday, March 18, 2012
God is Not Confined by Man-Made Artifacts
It's hard to believe I'm on my second to last attribute in my list from Acts 17:22-31: God is not man-made nor is He confined by man-made artifacts. Verse 30 tells us that we ought not to think that He is like "gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man's devising." Paul's reference to gold and silver and stone here is a direct reference to man-made idols, gods worshiped by the Greeks (at this point, he is in Athens). Today our nation may not have golden statues that we worship (though other nations certainly do), but we have plenty of things we idolize. That's not what I want to say this morning though...
Similar to the third attribute (God is boundless), God is not contained by our man-made creations, and I would dare say our biggest failure as Christians is that we, in this nation, have reduced God to Sunday morning church.
Not only is God's presence everywhere, but His Holy Spirit lives inside of me. If we are the body of Christ, then we also are the Church. This struck me in particular Saturday night at church. Pastor Jackie was pretty fired up preaching about service, our mandate to serve one another. His last point was that we serve to right injustices. The point of our Christian walk is not to fill a pew and get comfy - it's to go out and serve! And to do that, we don't have to take a trip halfway around the world. Places like the Dream Center minister to the poor in our city - right here in Lubbock!
In fact, Jackie talked a lot about our mandate to serve the poor and widows. That's why he has such a heart for the Slaton-Bean area. The Church, Christians, should be the ones serving those in need, those in crises, those in abusive situations, those in poverty and with poverty mindsets.
I am so thankful to be a part of a church, and under a pastor, who serves our city and our world. This year, we will send 150 people out to places all over the world, like Kenya, India, Czech Republic, and Guatemala, to serve. We give some 30% of our budget to missions organizations where most churches are lucky if their staff gives 10% away. And we have people who serve at the Dream Center daily, ministering to those in need in our city.
And what I love about the Dream Center is its goal to train and raise up generations out of poverty. Sure, we give away food and clothes to hundreds of families each week, but we also offer after school programs, G.E.D. classes, and job-search skills, like resume-building and interview strategies.
But it's not just about what my church is doing; it's about what I'm doing. When we got home, I kept thinking about our mandate to serve the poor. Personally, I am sometimes skeptical of government welfare programs because, for one, I know that the programs get abused by those who would take advantage of free money. When I worked at United Supermarkets, it always irked me when I would sack groceries for a WIC family and then carry the groceries out to a brand new Escalade. Secondly, I was raised to always take a job, to always work, no matter how "beneath me" the task may be. But on Saturday, God said to me, if the Church would do its job, there'd be no need for the government to run welfare programs. The welfare of the poor and the job-less is and has always been the Church's responsibility.
Instead, we are worrying about building 20 million dollar buildings and buying fancier stuff to fill our pews. If every church in every city served the poor, the job-less, the homeless, and those abused, we wouldn't have a welfare problem.
Jackie is right: we have a mandate to serve. And we have a mandate to serve those in unjust situations, to right injustices. And poverty is an injustice. We are the Church - you and me - and our purpose is no more about filling a pew than God's attribute is about being contained within the four walls of a church.
Jesus said that He didn't come to be served, but to serve. If you're waiting for "The Church" to do something in our nation, stop. You are the Church. I am the Church. Let's do one thing today, this week, this month, to serve others.