I know – It’s so cliché to “be” the church. But, for me, this rather standard buzz phrase has taken on new meaning this week. For many, it might mean the act of doing something for someone else. Stuck int he thinking that it’s what we “do” that becomes significant.
“Doing” is the easy part of it though. This week, I’ve realized that “Be-ing” the church is much about posture. It’s about how we respond to what is in front of us. It’s about responding in humility, and in many ways being humbled in our own humanness. Allow me to explain.
This past weekend we served with a group of about 55 people in Chamberlain SD. In 48 hours we did some MAJOR work on a missionary’s house near the reservation. Not only was the work and the fellowship a blessing, but we were also able to attend church on the reservation and speak life into this weary church family. From there we were invited to the grave of the recently departed church leader and an aunt to the family. As we traveled on the path (not road, path) to this burial ground, God was close, like sitting on my lap close. Not because of the burial place, but because the place of the burial was God’s creation. We were in rolling hills and green grassland. As most of the 50+ of us made our way to this grave, we had no idea what was in store for us. Our new Native American friends had placed on the two graves present gifts of food. And each of us was asked to approach the grave and take the treats. I can’t tell you how humbling it was to have those that we came to “be” the church to, reach out and attempt to minister to us. Not because they thought we needed fixing, but because they chose to love us. Oh that I might take their example of “be” ing the church. From there we were invited to a house (with power, as the church we had planned to eat at was without power) Here we realized that the “church” had been invited to the medicine man’s house. Just like God to bring us to the place he needs us to love like he needs us to. We were taken to the sweat tent and were able to have a learning lesson on their customs. Even in the midst of pondering some of their practices, we chose to love in real ways and as we simply loved, we were the Church.
Fast forward to Tuesday, when I was able to help a dear friend who expectantly found herself and her family in the trenches of foster care because she loves her job and her clients. Because when you love with a heart like Jesus, you do things not because they make sense, but because they are just the right thing to do! As I held and cuddled this sweet baby, I was able to pray over him. Real.prayers. Life.changing.type.of.prayers. And then I did what we Christians often do, I made them a meal. And then, I prayed for this sweet baby’s mama. I was so struck by how hard this must be on her. Even in the midst of choices that she has made that have landed her in a bit of a pickle; my mama heart ached for her. As I held and sang to him, I was struck by how sweet and innocent he was. And as I looked into his big dark eyes, I realized that it was going to take the church to help raise this sweet boy, that if we are the Church, we need to surround this family that is responding in nothing but Jesus like love. That although this child may live in their home, that all of us need to surround and support them. That we need to step it up and provide relief for them as they adjust to an infant and still work through their normal crazy life with 4 other kids. If we posture ourselves in a place that says we will be right next to you on this journey, not just when it is new and emotional, but for as long as you need help, that is church posture.
And then last night I was blessed to be with a group of friends to go out to eat for a sweet friend’s birthday. As we drove an hour away and dined in luxury and relaxation, we were being the church. Loving this friend as she turned 39, communing with one another in real ways, through laughter and tears. As we drove home I was struck by the depth of the conversation – from encouraging one another in parenting and speaking life into one another, to conversations about how to encourage college kids to have a healthy balance of out-reach friends and Christian friends. Last night “be-ing” the church meant filling ourselves up with Christian community so that we could go and “be” the church.
Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” And immediately the leprosy left him. – Luke 5:13
Jesus is our ultimate example. He didn’t shy away from hard circumstances. He touched the people with leprosy, and healed them. His posture wasn’t one of fear, but of love, of care, of concern. Are we reaching out our hands? Are we saying “I am willing?” What does our posture look like, and what does it say about His church? Are we falling on our knees and humbling ourselves in the Lord? Are we looking to him for our example? Or do we look for what the world says is acceptable? What is comfortable? (Cuz, I’m pretty sure Jesus touching the Leper was NOT acceptable!) Take a chance, do something that might not be the “popular” thing to do, but that might change your posture, that might move your heart to new places with the Lord. I think you’ll be surprised how different “be-ing” the church might look!