If you will redeem it, do so…(Ruth 4:4).
We all have a role to play in redemption. As we look around our lives, there are many in need of it. The single mom who cannot afford to clothe her children. The couple at your church whose marriage is falling apart. The grandmother who isn’t allowed to see her grandchildren. The teenager caught in the wrong place at the wrong time, wrongfully accused and facing time in prison. The family whose child is caught in a trap of drug abuse and addiction. You name it, the list could go on and on. Truth is, these situations are around us everywhere.
The problem is, more often than not we’re uncertain of what to do with this kind of messiness in the church. Since our churches are not normally hospitals for the broken, but instead storefronts for projecting a life of perfection we don’t know how to properly care for this kind of pain. If we’re brave enough, we may go and share with the pastor, but we dare not take our pain beyond the pastor’s office. We don’t want it to get out in the open because we fear the opinions of people. We fear being looked down on by people within our own church congregations.
I am learning how valuable it is to be open and honest about our messes. I am also learning that there is no shame in getting your mess out in the open of the church. After all, the church is supposed to be a place where we seek redemption for the hurting, lonely, abused, poor and destitute. Sadly, instead, it often becomes a place where we hide our messes and pain to project a life of having it all together. Sure, there will be some who will gossip about your situation, but they probably do that with everything else in their life. They are not people who are siding with the Lord Jesus for your redemption. Don’t worry about them. Let that person go. They want to play no helpful part in your redemption.
I wonder what kind of ministry Jesus would lead? I wonder what His church would look like? Would it be a place where broken sinners come to receive grace and mercy or would it be a place with flashing lights, loud music, and a hot coffee bar?
Could it be that we have removed ourselves so far from what Jesus meant when he said, “build my church,” that we have blinded ourselves to what real church is supposed to look like? What would Jesus remove from our churches if He came to worship there? Would He get rid of the things that kept us from being real and honest with one another? I think so. Would He seek the lonely and bring their pain out into the light of His love within the church, so that they might find healing for their souls? I think so. Would He spend much of His time constructing new projects, and talking about how many people showed up for the outreach event, instead of investing His life in loving people? I don’t think so. I’m not saying I have this all figured out or that I have the perfect idea and plan for what church is supposed to look like, but I think we should pause to consider how we’ve done church and how our thinking might need to change.
There is a thought that has been ruminating through my heart and mind recently about my life. I just want people to say, “Hey, there goes Heather, she’s a person who is real.” I have found that I am most relatable not in having all the answers, but in creating a place where others understand that I’m a real person too.
As we partner with God for redemption we must remember that the only role we are to play in it is to join God with the things He cares about. When I read the bible I see over and over again that Jesus cares for the lonely, destitute, and hurting. Maybe we should then too.
Lord, I want to side with you in redeeming things lost by sin. Help me to love the hurting mom. The man who believes he’s a failure and the child who is lost and lonely. Give me eyes to see their pain. Lord, I don’t want to run ahead to build my own kingdom. I want to usher in yours, in Jesus name, Amen.