Listening to a sermon this morning one particular phrase jumped out at me and has stayed in my head ever since:
“I would proclaim the gospel from the rubble of this church rather than become its curator”.
The preacher was talking about focusing on what really matters: putting Jesus at the centre of what we do, reaching out to others in mission and generosity, rather than focusing too much on our financial security, maintaining our buildings, and propping up our institutions.
Now, I (and indeed the preacher) do see the importance of our church buildings as signs of witness, as centres of mission, and as places for Christians to gather and worship.
But in that person’s passion for the gospel, for being a light of witness in an often dark world, I believe I caught a glimpse of God.
For it’s the good news of the gospel that matters above all – that God loves us, that Jesus died for us, that we don’t need to struggle alone because God is with us, and that sin, darkness, death and evil will not ultimately win.
This is an important message, especially right now, when we see hatred, prejudice, discrimination and bigotry spreading through society at all levels, when it’s government policy to create a “hostile environment”, when people are forced to rely on handouts and food banks because of a heartless and unfair benefits system.
At such a time do we, as the Church, really want prioritise our buildings and desire for security above reaching out to help people in desperate need?
Or do we want to say yes, we need our buildings, but let’s also look beyond the walls to the people in urgent need of help?
Sadly, for many people, Christians can be anything from irrelevant to nasty, idiots to prejudiced.
But wouldn’t it be wonderful if we were known as people who love, care and welcome, as people who stand up for the vulnerable and share love and generosity?
Would it be wonderful if we could all share in God’s urgent desire to find and save the lost, bind up the brokenhearted, and to bring as many people into his kingdom as possible?
May God give us grace to show his light in the world.