While some are focused on celebrating the season carried away with their own families and with the hype of the season including church activities and programmes. I think of those who are lonely at this time. There are so many categories of people who get left out as people take it for granted that all the others have ‘families’ to share Christmas with. Those who have embraced Christ from a different religious background, those who are single (esp the mature females), those who are living in another country that is not ‘home’ for them, those who may have family but a dysfunctional family… the list goes on. Often the sad part is people don’t even realise what is going on outside of their own little bubble – even if that person belongs to the same ‘church’.
People from a different religious background cannot celebrate Christmas with their biological families as the approach and focus would be worlds apart enhancing the already existing tension due to the ‘conversion’. Mature single females are often seen as the enemy in the eyes of many married women – as the married women assume the females are so desperate that they would try their level best to grab their husbands… So even if people are aware that there are others alone, they would rather keep them at arms length. How many people even realise there are such people out there? Then there are people who are from a certain heritage but have lived in a different country – so when they come to live in the land of their ancestors, they look so much alike that people assume that these people are right at home and have their families… which is often far from the truth. The list goes on… Many Christian families focus on their own often (knowingly or unknowingly) turning a blind eye to others around them during these festive seasons.
It reminds me of the parable of the Good Samaritan. The man who was left half dead on the road was a Jew. Both the priest and the Levite (both religious leaders) crossed to the other side when they saw him. They preferred to go about their own business / agenda. However it took a Samaritan to pause and do the needful. He went out of the way not bothered about the ‘inconvenience’. Mind you, the cultural setting of the time was that the Jews have nothing to do with Samaritans as they consider themselves superior. Through this parable, Jesus made it clear to the expert in the law (a religious leader too) what it means to be a neighbour.
Often our concept of ‘church’ makes us get it all wrong… Are we not the temples of God? We are the “CHURCH” simply by being! He lives in us and we allow Him to work in us and through us 24x7x365.. It’s a lifestyle not a religion.
How often do we see someone in need and turn the other way and go off… especially our fellow believers. Doesn’t Galatians 6:10 say, “let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers”? What’s the point of doing charity once in a while to a target group while there are those who belong to the family of believers right near you struggling to make ends meet or to bring a nutritious meal to their tables?
How often do we even know the suffering of those in our lives? How often do we actually know the suffering but then make reasons as to what they should be doing instead? Some people have made poor choices but due to economic situations are struggling to put their lives right again. Some have been forced into situations which they have no control of. We often judge to escape from sharing so we can continue indulgent lives. If God has forgiven us and helped us get back on track, shouldn’t we then extend a helping hand likewise to others? Of course, if people want to continue to make poor choices despite a helping hand then of course we need to take a step back and let them get their hearts right with God.
Then there is yet another category – those who have obeyed God to follow the calling on their lives also get judged. Paul thanked the churches that were sending him aid to carry out God’s Work and said, “Not that I am looking for a gift, but I am looking for what may be credited to your account”.
Jesus spent time with His disciples, He shared life with them while teaching them and then 3 years later He sent them out… “GO”.. to fulfill their roles in expanding His Kingdom. Jesus said the harvest is ripe but workers are few! He didn’t say “stay put and play church”.. but go out to the people. Paul rebukes those who should be eating solid food but still wanting to be fed milk. Yes, we never stop learning but Scriptures make it clear that each part does its role (operating in its gift and calling) for the Body of Christ to function with Christ as the head.
When one part suffers all suffer and when one part is honoured all rejoice. That’s what the ‘CHURCH” is all about. It’s not the physical building where we meet together to have fellowship. Like the disciples, when we have reached a mature stage, we GO to the people.. meet them where they are and touch them for God.
Today a large number of these physical buildings are full of buzz and hype ignoring one another as they are so busy “preparing” for the buzz and hype and spending money lavishly to achieve these goals.
As we abide in Him, He abides in us.. and His Work is done through us. We seek FIRST His Kingdom and His righteousness.
Let’s put the emphasis on being church as a lifestyle as opposed to emphasising “going to” and “doing” church. We are the church, not the physical buildings that facilitate our times of fellowship to get to know one another and love one another in the way God tells us to… Scripture lists out many ways to do this. We become like the 5 foolish virgins when we play church putting emphasis on attendance and activity overlooking fellowship with God and each other. Let’s be prepared and not miss out and being with our bridegroom!