It doesn't take a long look around to see that people don't have a lot of hope. There are fear and angst on nearly every Facebook feed, Twitter and Instagram account. People question whether the News is news. Fact finding is actually a thing now. This lack of hope produces fear and anger in some.
It has caused me to consider, "Where is the Church?'
I ask this because I believe the local church is the hope of the world.
God's call to his people in Isaiah is to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke and let the oppressed go free. They are to break every yoke, to share their bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into their homes; clothe the naked, support their family, remove the pointing finger, the speaking of evil, and help the afflicted.
That's a big job! We are to reflect Christ to the world.
It works this way.
We are made in Gods image and placed on earth as his representatives. Our relationship with him is to define how we interact with the earth and those on it. If we follow him, we, the earth and others will be blessed. Jesus then gives his people his Spirit to have the power to continue the work of redemption he began. This Jesus is the visible representation of the invisible God. So, we are to re-present Jesus to the world.
God took a great risk in trusting his representation to some deeply flawed people. Throughout history, we have done unspeakable things and committed unimaginable acts. We have tied bonds of injustice, tied the yoke we were to release, kept for ourselves that which would help the poor, hungry and oppressed. We have pointed the finger and allowed evil to spew from our lips. In short, we have done everything we weren’t to do. And, if the dwindling numbers in churches in the U.S. are any indication, we can only come to one conclusion.
We have misrepresented God.
We have decided for truth but at the cost of mercy. We have opted for being right instead of being beautiful. We have chosen separation from the world instead of meaningful, redemptive engagement. Or, we have decided to co-opt the world and look no different from it.
Injustice is prevailing. Mercy is scarce. The poor are still marginalized.
Over and over God calls his people to turn to him. This turning is not just for them, but for those around them. Israel was to be a light to the nations. So are we. What would it look like to the world if the church did a better job?
I think the world would find the church to be a credible body of people doing good and beautiful things. I think the world would find the church appealing on some level. I think the world might just see Jesus in a different light.
"The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians, who acknowledge Jesus with their lips and walk out the door and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable." – Brennan Manning
May this not be so for us. We are the hope of the world.