Life At Its Best: Step out of your comfort zone, show some love
By Jim Graff
July 11, 2014 at 2:11 a.m.
Many businesses use rewards programs. They offer opportunities to become gold card members or frequent flyers.
There are many benefits that come from joining, but there are also requirements. You have to spend a certain sum or fly so many miles to be considered elite. In the end, some people decline their offer, but it's not because they don't want the rewards. They simply don't want the requirements.
Unfortunately, many people have a similar experience in church. They come and hear all the benefits of connecting to God's family. They get excited about how He can make their life better. But then they see stipulations.
For some, it's when seeking membership. They're made to feel that their life isn't together enough to join a church family. For others, it's when they start pursuing fellowship within the church.
They find a certain status connected to ministry teams or small groups. The exclusive environments slowly push them away. In the end, they decide that while they want the rewards, they don't want the requirements that come with it.
This isn't a new issue. It was present even in Jesus' time. Back then, there were religious leaders called Pharisees. They spent much time in God's house and zealously studied His law. However, they used their knowledge to gain status rather than to spread salvation. As a result, they turned people away from Christ.
In Matthew 23:13, Jesus said, "You hypocrites. You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people's faces." It sounds harsh, I know. But He wasn't speaking out of hatred for the Pharisees but out of love for people. He wanted everyone to experience the life He had to offer. He was determined to tear down anything that hindered people from connecting to Him.
The same holds true today. Jesus came for all of us. His message is for everyone and so is His church. He has called us to be sharers and servants of His kingdom. In order to do so, we have to make some intentional changes.
First, we have to accept our imperfection. As the church, we feel an unnecessary burden to perform well. Of course, we should always do our best to follow God, but we don't have to live afraid to mess up.
Jesus said in John 13:35, "Your love for one another will prove to the world that you're my disciples." He didn't say our performance. He said our love. We must recognize that it's not how good we are but how well we love that ultimately attracts the world.
Then, we must recognize that we exist for everyone. Many times, we create an exclusive culture - not out of conceit but out of comfort. It's easier to be around people who are similar to us. But we'll never reach the world that way.
Instead, we must be intentional about inviting others into our world. Sure, it may be awkward at first, but chances are someone once took that step for you. Now, it's time to return the favor. Step out and show someone Jesus' love today.
Jim Graff is the senior pastor of Faith Family Church in Victoria. Visit faithfamilyvictoria.com.