everyone under their own vine and under their own fig tree…..(1 Ki 4:25).
One of the hallmarks of Solomon’s reign was that the people lived in safety and security. Sadly, in our day, there is little peace, safety, and security. Instead of acting as a hospital from the broken, the church often operates as a protector of its theology or a place where political stances are more important than caring for people.
When Jesus got down to the nitty gritty of life it was never about building something, launching a new, exciting program or making some huge investment in the new building project. His mission was always about love and bringing God’s hesed (His enduring, faithful, covenantal love) into the world.
Jesus took people on a journey. Sometimes I think the church feels like it’s done its job when we get people inside a building, but does this in some way stall our journey? To sit inside a building week after week. Do we ever hear about Jesus and His disciples sitting in a building, week after week, as they went about the Judean countryside to spread the good news, bringing God’s hesed into the world?
The Jews believed that faith was radically active. We check off boxes in our churches to measure growth and spiritual activity. We ask, “How many people are coming? Who signed up and how much money did we raise?” If we feel good about those numbers, we feel like we’re making progress in the kingdom of God. All of these things are good, but I wonder what would happen if we started asking, “How many people are on a life-changing journey with God?” How many people have shared their story and the church has surrounded them in caring for their needs, whether that be, physically, emotionally or spiritually? Who is walking alongside of someone, sharing their life with them as they grow closer to God together?
Could it be that our world’s lack of peace, is because we have stopped seeing people? I mean, really see people. Getting beyond what’s in front of us and into their heart. We are rarely moved to compassion because the only person we can see is ourselves and our own needs. Our Lord, forgive us. What if the church became an open door where people could share their story, be received with love and grow in the grace of God together? What if we started seeing our growing love for people, not programs, numbers or “new exciting ministry strategies,” as indicators of growth? Maybe then, we would see God’s peace expand into the world. Maybe then we would make disciples of all nations, in Jesus name.
As God’s hesed extends into the world, His peace rushes out like a flowing river. God’s Holy Spirit changes people as they encounter the Lord Jesus. As we bring people into that experience, teaching them about the love of Jesus their heart turns away from sin as they encounter the living, active, God of love.
Lord, forgive me. I lack the love in my heart to see the hurting. Father, I am rarely moved to compassion. Help me to see people. I don’t want to neglect to care for them because of my own personal agenda. God, fill my heart with your grace, in Jesus name, Amen.