I was with a friend yesterday, and she had a friend there whom I had never met. He began asking me questions about what our family does. When I mentioned that our organization is considered a church (501c3) in the US, he was curious. He wanted to know how we did “church” over the internet since we are in Cyprus and people that we teach are scattered around the world.
If I felt like he would understand, I would have explained that our thought process is to build communities and not a “church.” Touched by Grace desires to strengthen those in the body of Christ in the places where they are currently serving so they can serve those around them.
The response I gave is that it is our desire is to teach people the Bible in the place where it actually happened. We believe that as people travel to the places where the Word took place, it will give them insight into what was said and why it was said. It truly brings the Bible to life. It makes discipleship real as we walk and talk together in places where we can see and feel the things that the followers of Jesus would have been a part of thousands of years ago. By living in Israel, and now Cyprus, and having the ability to travel to Greece; this is how we teach.
He kind of understood that, than asked the question, “So how many people are a part of this ‘church club?’”
To be honest, it took me off guard. That is NOT how I want any community to be viewed. And yet, sadly, I have been hearing those words more and more from different people. The “church” has become viewed more and more as a place for people to gather and socialize than it is seen as a place where lives are changed.
I have been asking myself, “WHY?” What has happened to make people on the outside looking in think this?
The thought that has been in my mind as I ponder this is, “Because our lives are no different than anyone else.” It is becoming more and more evident that what happens inside the “church” is the same that happens in the world. Bitterness. Gossip. Unkind words. Slander. Gluttony. Divorce. Lies. The list could probably go on…
Yes, we are all human. Yes, we will make mistakes. We will gossip at times. We will become bitter. However, our responses to all situations will determine how people view us and if we are truly different.
We need to ask ourselves, “HOW are we different?” Or maybe we should ask, “ARE we different?”
The next challenge is to change and MAKE ourselves different. The Word tells us that when we choose to follow Jesus, we should RESPOND different and ACT different. People around us should notice that we are different. They should be drawn to us, and WANT to be with us. This happens when we REACH OUT.
Acts 2:42 They continued faithfully in the teaching of the emissaries (apostles), in fellowship, in breaking bread and in the prayers. (CJB)
James 1:22 Don’t deceive yourselves by only hearing what the Word says, but do it! (CJB)
John 1:5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not suppressed it. (CJB)
The verses above encourage us to do this.
Community happens when we break bread and fellowship together. This should be happening in our homes, not just in a building we attend. Community happens when we pray together. This can happen anywhere we go because when two or three are gathered HE is with us. When we DO what the Word says and not just hear it, our lives WILL be different. When we CHANGE and follow the Word, than our LIGHT will not be suppressed by the darkness.
The choice for us today is to be DIFFERENT. Make a difference in the LIVES of those around us. Bring LIFE to those HE places in our path. Choose to BE THERE for others. Take food. Take laughter. Take JOY. When we LIVE DIFFERENT than we are more than a social club. We reach OUT instead of drawing in.
Clubs draw people in; HE reaches OUT.
When we come to the realization that FOLLOWING God and DOING what He asks actually brings REST in Him, than we RESTORE ourselves to Him. We are then REFRESHED to walk forward day-to-day living CHANGED and showing our LIGHT into the darkness.
Love and blessings,