Our pastor is doing a series on being real. Here is his message through an e-note:
Pastor Dennis Rouse:
Have you ever wondered why people in the church seem so disconnected from those outside the church? Do you, yourself, feel uncomfortable around lost people – not quite sure how to interact with them? The problem is that all too often, once we start going to church, we stop being real. We tend to get caught up in our little church world, doing churchy activities, hanging out with other churchy people and speaking with churchy language. We start withdrawing from the world and become completely disconnected. So much so, that many of us have completely forgotten how to connect in any meaningful way with the lost.
In a well-intentioned but misdirected attempt to become more like Christ, we have, in reality, become more like Church. Simply put, we’ve become religious. But let’s face it, the whole reason Jesus came was not to teach us how to be more religious. Rather, He came to reveal a real God to the world. Jesus didn’t spend most of His time in “church”, but in the world, amongst real people.
One of the enemy’s best tactics in his war against God’s kingdom has been the substitution of religiosity for true relationship with God. If we’re not careful, we can allow this religious spirit to take over our lives and destroy the impact God intends us to have on the lost. Rather than being loving and real, people that operate under a religious spirit are hypocritical, image-conscious, position-conscious, legalistic, pretentious, dogmatic, covetous or judgmental – usually all of the above. Beware of these things!
Church is not about being religious; it’s about equipping people to share the gospel with others effectively – just what we cannot do if we’re being religious. You see, when we invite someone to accept Christ, we’re inviting them to be like us. So, we have to ask ourselves whether our lifestyles are inviting people to a religion or a relationship. Jesus’ whole lifestyle was built around relating authentically to lost people and introducing them to the principles of God’s love and reconciliation. He did this naturally, without pretense and without being religious.
If you want to be a REAL kind of Christian, begin by realizing that the most important thing you can do in this life is lead someone to Christ. God has given ALL of us the ministry of reconciliation. Next, invest real time with your unchurched/unsaved neighbors. As you do so, understand that authenticity begins by demonstrating real love that says to the other person, “I really care about you.” Finally, know that the more real you are with others, the more open they are to hear what you have to say. Be real and be ready, when the time comes, to give an answer for your hope.
This week, I challenge you to go out and engage with someone in your world – in your neighborhood or at your job. Invite them into your life. Have a real conversation that opens their heart to you, to Christ in you. Live a life that doesn’t stand in the way of the sinner, but one that leads them to the Lord!