Did you hear about the rich church where nearly the whole membership was white, middle, and upper middle class? And most of the more influential members and leaders were made up of professionals: lawyers, doctors, engineers and politicians with high office? And they meet in a beautiful, ornate, and rather large, chapel with stained glass windows reaching high up to the vaulted ceiling? And the orchestral choir is made up of professional musicians enjoying world-class acoustics in their million dollar sanctuary?
I mean, so far, yeah, you heard about this place. Right?
But I am talking about the one where since early summer the pastor has been leading the flock to consider more seriously how they can be like Jesus, to imitate him in love and sacrifice. So they spent three months studying how Jesus touched lepers, fed hungry people, forgave sins, healed the sick, championed the cause of the poor, and then spent three more months analyzing how Jesus purposely praised the humility of others, practiced humility, and then actually sacrificed himself in utter suffering and humiliation as an act of love for completely undeserving people who turned on him, spit on him, killed him, and when it was all done were just utterly bewildered by his kindness. Did you hear about that one?
I mean, so far, yeah… maybe. Maybe you heard about it. But come to think of it, maybe not.
But I am talking about that church made up of all those professionals, spending so much time in study and meditation on the sacrificial love of Jesus that come the Sunday before Thanxgiving when the temperatures outside were plummeting, they decided to actually be like Jesus. ‘
So they opened up the chapel, put on a dozen pots of coffee, started making breakfast burritos in the kitchen like an assembly line at Ford Motor Co. while deacons began driving church vans and oversized SUV’s around town looking for homeless people to bring to church. And then in shifts, the vans and SUV’s began dropping off the needy who were welcomed inside where they were met with coffee and food, with warmth and hospitality! And the house got so packed full with the poor that the church members could no longer physically fit in the building with the guests, and the crowd reminded them of that fisherman’s hut in Capernaum where the four friends ripped the roof open so they could get their paralyzed friend lowered down to Jesus. So the church members dragged out blankets and took seats on the frozen lawn while the deacons ushered the homeless into the sanctuary where as honored guests they could enjoy the music in warmth. And the sound system deacon wired speakers out on the lawn so the whole assembly, both inside and out, could join in the song.
And the church thus tried real hard to be like Jesus! The church sacrificed deeply to love the poor, the stranger, the hungry, the thirsty, and in showing hospitality may well have entertained angels unaware!
Yeah. Did you hear about THAT CHURCH?
A church like that would make the papers, wouldn’t it?
I mean wouldn’t the papers be printing GOOD NEWS if a church really tried to be like Jesus?