I hope I convey through my preaching that I definitely have a very high view of the church. Too often Christians fall into the temptation of thinking that church is more like a social club rather than a way God transforms the world. And we also tend to struggle with believing that something else will bring salvation, such as a political election or powerful leader. We so desperately want to overcome sinfulness without Christ alone!
God calls us to the belief that the “holy catholic church”–as the Apostles’ Creed puts it–is the gift God gave the world to spread the good news of Jesus Christ. Churches always struggle if they make their existence about some other thing. But the good news is that when we focus on this core message, God’s love multiplies and the body of Christ grows.
I went to college at Baylor University in Waco, TX. Waco was kind of a college town, stuck in the middle between Dallas and Austin on I-35. The highway and a couple of byroads basically divided the city into certain economic sections. On one side of the interstate, there was Baylor’s campus–lots of students (many from affluent backgrounds), fancy buildings, and the like. And on the other side, downtown Waco was a completely different world. There were many people struggling with homelessness and addiction. Jobs were scarce. The tragic thing was that it was so incredibly easy to live life in the Baylor “bubble” as a student rather than helping out those in poverty on the other side of the highway.
Several years ago, a man named Jimmy Dorrell saw this need in Waco and sought to do something about it. He founded a ministry called Mission Waco several years ago to serve the homeless and poor of the city. Jimmy would work to get Baylor students to live out the gospel for our homeless brothers and sisters.
There’s a story I once heard about Jimmy that always stuck with me. He is an author and engaging public speaker, traveling all over to share how to do what they were doing in Waco. One time, Jimmy was giving a seminar to a group of students about his work. During a Q&A time, one student plainly asked him, “Why on earth do you do what you do?”
This question might sound abrasive or even uncaring. But I suspect we all struggle with this kind of viewpoint every now and then. Why on earth would you sacrifice a comfortable life to hang around and help homeless people? Why be generous with your money in a world of scarcity? Why not just believe that homelessness is someone else’s problem?
Jimmy could have responded with a plethora of bible verses about social justice and compassion. He could have answered with a grand theological argument, just like pastors do during sermons.
But instead, Jimmy simply said this: “I do this because they are my friends. And I want to help my friends.”
So many times we overthink our calling in the world. We might second guess ourselves. Or even worse, we might water-down the meaning of the holy catholic church and ignore the cry of the needy. Tragically, the responses of “Not my problem!” or “Someone else ought to do it!” are so common.
But the beautiful truth of the church is a simple call to make friends and care for them. We share God’s blessings with other people. We eagerly tell others about what Jesus has done in our life. And we develop that compassionate desire to help those friends, no matter what they might be going through.