Beyond the walls of the church
Published: Wednesday, July 31, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, July 30, 2013 at 7:43 p.m.
Greetings all, in the marvelous name of Jesus.
My column today is about the church being willing to "go out into the world."
The church has always historically been a place where saints can come to be spiritually revived and sinners can come for repentance and spiritual deliverance. The church has also been a place of refuge from the troubles of daily living.
Most recently, in the wake of the "not guilty" verdict in the trial of George Zimmerman in the death of Trayvon Martin, the church became a rallying point all across the nation for those who met to protest the verdict as well as decide how to move ahead and protect our young people.
Still, with all of the things that are done within the walls of the church, which should be done if the church is to be committed to being motivated by the life and ministry of Christ, as in the church rallies following the verdict, there are those times when the church must minister to the community at large.
Along with welcoming those who need comfort, counseling, biblical teaching and preaching, food, clothing, financial assistance and, of course, prayer, times will arise when the church will become an important focal point for social justice and other vital community concerns.
When Jesus told his trusted disciple Peter to "feed my sheep," it was with full recognition that this service could and did require great sacrifice on the part of Peter and the other disciples.
Throughout his ministry, Jesus calls his disciples to pick up their crosses and follow him. He did not call these men to just settle into one location or even one way of thinking. These men were called to "go out into the world" and make a difference. This should be an important goal for the church of today, regardless of the denomination, for we are all children of the most high God.
The role of the church in the community, and the Bible declares this, is to vigorously pursue peace and justice without fear and hesitation. Many church members have been doing just that since Zimmerman walked out of court a free man. Deuteronomy 16:19-20 reads: "You shall not pervert justice, you shall not show partiality, and you shall not take a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eye of the wise, and subverts the cause of the righteous. Justice, and only justice you shall follow, that you may inherit the land which the Lord your God gives to you."
This means that the need for justice is as valid today as it was when Moses spoke these words.
Just as we are rooted in the gospel within the church, our homes and in other places, we also should be rooted in our communities, and this cannot be done unless we are first rooted, or "spiritually planted," in the gospel to witness to others and to serve.
The desire to do these things must be deep within our hearts, minds and souls. When we minister to the hungry, the sick, the oppressed, the imprisoned and down-trodden, we go well beyond the "walls" of the church to fulfill the commandments given to Moses by God and later taught by Jesus to his disciples.
By doing so, and by opening up the doors of the church to allow rallying cries for justice, as was the case with Trayvon, we will be doing a great thing in the eyes of God.
We can and must keep alive the concept of spiritual and social ministry beyond the church building.
May God's grace be upon each of you in the name of Jesus Christ.
The Rev. Milford Lewis Griner is senior pastor of Pleasant Plain United Methodist Church in Jonesville.