For me, there is nothing else quite like the thrill of being part of a church.
Why? I thought you’d never ask.
Because it is in the church where you and I are privileged to watch lives being transformed and used by God.
A few weeks ago, I was reminded of just how special that privilege can be.
I was teaching a class to a group of new pastors. At one point, I asked them to describe a time when their church did something special to strengthen their faith journey.
One pastor spoke of her and her new husband moving to Virginia from Las Vegas. They left their family and many of their friends behind. At times they wondered if they were wise to leave.
One Sunday they decided to visit one of the local churches in the area. The one they chose seemed welcoming enough. The worship service was what they were looking for and they went home feeling somewhat better.
Several hours later two people knocked on their door, introduced themselves as members of the church just visited. They thanked them and presented a gift of a plant as a token of their appreciation. They stayed just a few minutes and left.
But those few minutes were exactly what our young couple needed. A special place was found for the plant and this couple eagerly visited the church again next week and the week after that. Soon they would join. In the midst of the nurturing environment of their church, first her husband, then she herself would hear a calling from God to become ministers and lead churches themselves.
The pastor then said with tears flowing, “I will always be grateful for the love and nurturing that was shown to me by my church.” She stopped and paused for a moment, smiled and said, “I still have that plant. It will always serve as a reminder to me of just how special God’s church can and should be.”
Do you know what is so powerful about this story? The author found love and acceptance when she needed it most in the church. Within that love and acceptance her life was transformed and used by God so that now she is given the opportunity to teach others what God and her church taught her so well.
What happens in a church devoted to serving God is like that. There are often a seemingly random series of events that offer opportunities through the power of God’s Holy Spirit to make a difference either in your own life or within the life of someone else.
In Romans 3:21-22, Paul defines the purpose of pastors and our churches when he writes: “But now God has shown us a way to be made right with him without keeping the requirements of the law, as was promised in the writings of Moses and the prophets long ago. We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.”
Here is what stood out for me…
• God has shown us a way.
• We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ.
• This is true for everyone.
As churches we are given the opportunity to show others the way God has shown us. We are made right with God, not by all of our works but by simply placing our faith in Jesus Christ. This wonderful promise is not just for a privileged few but for everyone.
I’ll say it again, for me there is nothing quite like the thrill and the privilege of seeing lives transformed and used by God.
As you prepare for worship remember that you are privileged to be part of God’s plan, the church.