Be a beacon of the church

Published: Wednesday, September 18, 2013 at 3:07 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, September 18, 2013 at 3:07 p.m.

The Bible tells us in Luke 18:10-13: "Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, 'God, I thank You that I am not like other men — extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.' And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me a sinner.'"

It is unfortunate that the church is losing ground and is no longer the great beacon of light or symbol of hope that it once was to those who are unsaved and lost.

Many unsaved people I have spoken with tell me that they see no difference between the church and those in the world. In fact, I was once told that, "church folk were nothing more than sinners in suits."

There are also many who have told me that they receive more compassion, sincerity and love from their "sinner friends" than those who are in the church.

Is there any truth to this?

Let us take a closer look at Luke 18:10-31.

We see two men who went to the temple to pray. One man (the Pharisee) immediately began to thank God that he was "… not like other men …" The other man appeared to be filled with shame and disgust and would not lift up his head or raise his eyes to heaven, and simply asked, "God, be merciful to me a sinner."

Therefore, we can conclude that one man was filled with pride, and the other man, having a broken spirit, was seeking help, forgiveness and mercy for his sins.

What if this man who needed mercy showed up to church today? Would he be told to come back when he was properly dressed? Would he be turned away because he had alcohol on his breath or appeared to be high off some other drug? Would he be treated differently because he had just been laid off from his job, was homeless and had no means of contributing to the church?

In fact, suppose he was a neighbor whom everyone in the church knew that he had just had his home repossessed by the bank? Would the church accept him in love or judge him and condemn him for falling on hard times?

I believe that it's time for all of us in the church to examine ourselves to see whether we are walking in sincerity and truth. If the church is suppose to be a sanctuary, then why are so many finding their sanctuary and comfort in drugs, alcohol, sex and other vices?

It is time that all of us who name the name of Jesus start being a real example of Jesus by laying aside the spirits of judgment, criticism, pride and all of the other sins that lead us to believe that we are better than others.

Most of all, it is time that our churches be the beacon of light that promotes the life-changing message of our Lord and Risen Savior Jesus Christ, so that we may draw others to the place where our God desires them to be.

Let me conclude by saying this: The church, who Jesus Christ is the head of, will never fail. However, those of us who are part of His church also must not fail and must make sure that what others see in the church and in us is Jesus.

Pastor Ron Jones is pastor of New And Living Way Outreach Ministries at 1145 E. University Ave. in Gainesville.

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