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      Nurturing people in the image of God since 1868.                                                                          POB 397/520 Dry Creek Rd./Smithville, TN




The Church:  How Do You See It?

The situation down at church reminds me of something Lionel B. Fletcher said — "It is easy to shoot a skylark, but it is not so easy to reproduce its song." There is no other organization or organism on earth like the church Jesus built! Nobody can sing the song she sings! She is the body of Christ on earth (Ephesians 1:22-23). She produces a unique song as she preaches the gospel of peace in a world torn by war. She follows in the footsteps of Jesus, however imperfectly, and ministers to those in need whether of body, mind, or soul. And yet people shoot at her. Oh, don't they love to shoot? At her message, her members, and her methods. Some seek to dismiss her while others want to redesign her doctrine and worship to their own liking. We constantly hear that the church is flawed and filled with hypocrites; that she is irrelevant and out of touch with modern culture; that "all the church wants is your money." Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang. Now, I'm not suggesting we pretend the church is perfect or never in need of revival and reform and change. Who could or would deny the church sometimes struggles to love, serve, care, forgive, and evangelize the way Christ taught her to? Apathy, lethargy, sin, hypocrisy, what used to be called "worldliness," hyper-critical and hyper-judgmental attitudes on the part of some, not to mention false teachers/false doctrine — all these at times trouble the church. Sometimes we are not as evangelistic or friendly or concerned or caring or as committed as we ought to be. Look closely enough in a congregation of any size and you will find at least some of these flaws present to some degree.

I am not suggesting we dismiss human problems and failings. I am saying we must not allow such things to be our only focus! What do you hear yourself thinking about the church where you worship and serve? Does it sound anything like this? "Peace to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Amen" (Ephesians 6:22-23). Get real now -- how do you see the church? The following story reminds us how you see her largely depends on how you look at her. A man pulled into a gasoline station on the edge of town and asked the attendant, "I am moving here to take a new job and I have never lived in this part of the country. What are people like here?" The attendant asked; "What are people like where you come from?" The man replied, "Not so nice. In fact, most of them are unfriendly." The attendant nodded his head and said, "Well, I'm afraid you'll find the people in this town to be the same way." Just then a second car pulled in and its driver called out, "I'm just moving into this area. Is it nice here?" The attendant asked this man, "Was it nice where you came from?" and the driver replied, "Oh, yes! It was a great place. People were friendly, and I hated to leave." The attendant said, "Well, I predict you'll find the same to be true in this town." As the second man pulled away, the first one, irritated with the conflicting answers, demanded, "So what is this town really like?" The attendant just shrugged his shoulders and said, "It's all a matter of perception. You'll find things to be just the way you think they are." We know how Jesus sees His church – He loved her and died for her (Ephesians 5:25). How do you see the church?

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ