I keep finding myself wanting to be outside of the church. Why?
Because I feel like that is where Jesus is. Or where Jesus would be if He was here.
Let me explain.
My best friend lives in a small town in Manitoba, not too far from where I did a youth pastor internship. There is major flooding happening there right now. It is so bad that the town has declared a state of emergency. Schools have been closed for days. Major roads are closed, either to keep people away from the flooded areas, or because flooding has overtaken the road.
My parents live in another small town in Manitoba, hours north of my friend. They too are experiencing flooding. A block of giant ice chunks has caused the mayor to call a state of emergency there too, the first one in his 20 years of leadership.
I recently saw a Facebook post (which I did share on Christian Thought Sandbox’s Facebook page, which you should check out :D ) where a pro-choicer was condemning pro-lifers for not adopting unborn children, loving them and raising them as their own.
In all these situations, my heart was stirred. Where is the church? Where was the church in those two Manitoba communities? Were they out sandbagging, helping divert water, saving people’s homes? Where was the church in relation to the abortion clinics? Outside protesting and damning people? Or loving and committing to a life with these innocent babies?
(To my joy, the churches were and are helping in both those communities.)
But the stirring in my heart drove me to ask whether I was willing to make the rubber hit the road, make my faith a physical expression rather than just a spiritual exercise. Was I willing to take my belief and have it inform my actions, even at my own personal expense.
Like I said in that Facebook post about abortion, I am not calling all Christians to go adopt unborn babies, but calling us all to realize the cost that following Jesus comes with. Not every Christians needs to do something that extreme, but it needs to a regular and nature way of living out what we know to be true, right, and good.
I saw my neighbour across the street packing up his truck. He seemed to be moving out, and struggling to put his mini bike into the box of his truck. I did nothing. But was overwhelmed by conviction later, I was not the hands and feet of Jesus, even in a situation like that.
“Now great multitudes went with Him. And He turned and said to them, “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it— lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish’?” Luke 14:25-30
It isn’t enough to simply consider the cost. We need to move and take action.
The stirring of my heart hasn’t stopped over this issue. Even in the days since I’ve had conversations about the flooding, or the days since my neighbour moved out. This isn’t something that should go away, or an idea that should stop being emphasized.