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THIS is what Jesus would do!

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Well, life is certainly different today than it was just a few short weeks ago, isn’t it? Emotions are running high, fear and worry dominate the daily news, and Americans are dealing with the unnerving reality of being told what they can and cannot do and where they can and cannot go.

Yes…these are difficult days, are they not?

In addition to the countless businesses being forced to shut down, many churches have been forced to close their doors as well, at least temporarily. 

For those determined to conduct church services, this has necessitated a move to more creative methods of ministering to our congregations. Facebook Live, radio, YouTube videos, even ‘parking lot’ church are all examples of how churches have had to think outside the box.

Here in Florida, our Governor has included attending church services in the “essential” category, meaning that houses of worship may remain open as usual, with the caveat that worshipers stay a safe distance apart from one another.

Naturally, this decision has been received in either one of two ways. On one hand, you have those who are cautiously elated at the prospects of assembling together again for worship. Then there are those who think this was just about the worse decision that could have been made. Like most things in life, I guess it depends on which side of the fence you happen to be standing on.

While I readily admit that the current environment has thrown us all for a loop, it is a curious thing to me that so many in the church still cling to the notion that the church is the building that they attend services in.

The truth is, that is simply not correct. The church has never been a building, a temple, or a cathedral. The Church has always been you and me. It has always been those people who have trusted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.

All of this gives me reason to suspect that what I’ve longed believed is true: the Church has lost its identity. We have supplanted the truth that we are the church with the error that the church is a building.

Looking at it another way, the church has adopted the very same mindset that the citizens of this country have adopted when explaining the nucleus of our government. “We The People” has been tossed aside in favor of the government being more readily identified as a conglomeration of buildings in Washington D.C.

This isn’t a mere play on words, nor is it a simple issue of semantics. This is a very important issue for several reasons, not the least of which is that the Church was never intended to become an institution, or a building.

Institutions are typically cold, lifeless, bureaucratic entities that exist (hopefully)to serve the greater good of society. This does not describe the Church that we read about throughout the New Testament!

The Church is a living extension of the Lord Himself. As such, we ought to be asking ourselves if Jesus were here today, how would he respond to the current worldwide crisis?

Would Jesus shutter himself behind locked doors and close all of the blinds? Would He sequester himself apart from every person on the planet?

Would he refuse to heal the sick out of fear on contracting COVID-19? Would he turn away the hungry mother who cannot feed her children? 

Would he turn out into the streets the struggling family who suddenly find themselves without a steady stream of income? Would he run to the store and hoard as many necessities as possible?

Well, the Good News is that Jesus is here today! He lives in each and every one of his children. So the question of WWJD, is actually a question of what are we doing to respond to this crisis?  

Since it is an established fact that you and I are the Church, the hands and feet of Jesus, and not some ornate building, wouldn’t you agree with me that right now the Church should be leading the efforts to minister to and provide for those who are in dire need today?

Wouldn’t this be a great opportunity to release some of the excess funds in our church treasuries in order to make a difference in the lives of people, the people that Jesus died for?

Perhaps you have heard about the church in Cincinnati that recently paid over $46 million dollars of medical bills for 45,000 families? Why should this be an aberration? Shouldn’t this be the norm?

As I keep reminding people whenever I can, as Christians we either are what we claim to be or we are not. There is no middle ground here. Either we are Christ’s representatives here on earth, or we are not. 

We cannot be Christian only when everything is going well in our lives. We cannot say we are followers of Christ and not follow Him wherever he may lead us…and that includes the current crisis we are experiencing.

Please understand me, I am certainly not advocating that you run straight to your nearest hospital and expose yourself to this virus. Absolutely not! We must be wise in times like these. We must follow the mandates of our local leaders. We must not do something that will prolong the crisis or put others in jeopardy.

Neither can we live in fear and torment however. We cannot be The Church if we are hiding behind closed doors. No, it is time for the true Church to arise. It is time to cast off the spirit of fear that is paralyzing our churches and leaving us incapable of serving others.

My prayer is that all of us would consider the needs of others during this time, and that we would remember that Jesus has called us for such a time as this to go forth and minister to them.  

That’s what Jesus would do.

Ron

The Law of Love

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I thought I would pass along a little nugget from God’s word tonight regarding what many refer to as the Law of Love, taken from the Beatitudes as recorded in Luke 6. I hope it will be both a blessing and a source of encouragement to you.

After Jesus had come down from a mountain where he had spent the entire night in prayer, he encountered a multitude of people from Judea, Jerusalem, and the entire region that were afflicted by all types of sickness, as well as demon possession.

When Jesus had finished healing them all, he proceeded to teach them about a type of love that none of them had ever heard about. It was a love based upon giving instead of receiving, a concept that was just as strange to these people as it is to many of us today.

Beginning in Luke 6:27 and continuing through verse 36, Jesus begins teaching them about loving their enemies, doing good to those who hated them, and being merciful.

He tells them to bless them that curse you, give to any that ask of you, love those that don’t love you, and lend expecting nothing in return.

This, my friends, is the Law of Love.

Give yourself away. Pour into others. Do not be a taker, but a giver.

If there ever was a time when the church needed to rise up and give itself away, it is today.

Give your heart to the lost. Give your heart to the poor. Give your heart to the downtrodden. Opportunities to give of your heart are everywhere.

You might say there’s an endless supply of these ‘opportunities’. A local nursing home, for example is a prime opportunity to share our heart. So is the after school program in your local school district.

GIVE

I have often heard it said by Christians that we cannot out-give God. The meaning behind this is that the more we give of our finances to the Lord’s work, the more He blesses what we give and adds to it.

I have no doubt that this principle is factual because I have seen it with my own eyes many times. The manner in which God multiplies our efforts is nothing short of amazing.

Our heart however, is something we hold onto and guard carefully. When it comes to the type of love Jesus is referring to here, it’s all about the heart, not the wallet. And while it is true finances are needed to carry on the work of the ministry, a heart that is open to the touch of God is of much greater value to the Kingdom.

I encourage you to reacquaint yourself with Luke 6:27-36. You never know what the Lord might stir up in your heart as a way of ministering to others.

I’m grateful for all of you who read this. I trust the Lord will meet with you in a special way.

RonC