Sunday, July 17, 2011

Sunday Morning: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.

As always, I love being at Hopedale Baptist Church on any given Sunday. Today was no different.  I want to share a few observations from this morning.

First of all, I slept in a little later than normal on a Sunday morning with the plan that I was going to skip the early service and only go for Bible Study and the later service (I'm usually at both services).

The Good

Arriving at church for Sunday School, I was pleased to see that there were some new faces in the youth group.  This small group continues to grow in both number and spiritual maturity.  They have been very active this year in showing the love of God by participating in a variety of ministry events.

We have been to St. Louis on a neighborhood clean-up project.
They have fixed an evening meal at the Ronald McDonald House in Springfield.
They packaged food for Kids Against Hunger.
They just completed a week of VBS at an area church that needed help.
This week they will be going to the Baptist Student Union at Missouri State University to get it cleaned up and ready for the fall semester.
Then they'll be working at Hopedale's VBS at the end of the month.
...and they're having fun and inviting friends!

They have really been a great group of young believers to work with.  It's difficult to express just how proud I am of them.  It's important to say that Ryan, our Minister of Youth and Education, is also doing a great job of providing the opportunities for them to grow and serve.  It's not supposed to work out that the youth of a church set an example of service for the adults--it's supposed be the other way around. But if the adults will take notice of work that the kids are doing and just try to keep up with them, we'll be one big community lovin' and serving kind of church!

The Bad

I love Hopedale. And I think that it's a very friendly church ... but I also know that I have become very familiar with our church.  I know a lot of people and a lot of people know me.  I really want to believe that everybody that comes to visit is greeted warmly and made to feel comfortable on their very first experience at my home church. This morning a co-worker came to visit (finally!) along with his girlfriend.  I was happy to see them as it's been a few weeks that they have been planning to come but have been hindered by one thing or another.

During that meet and greet, handshaking, hugging time that most churches seem to have, I kept glancing over to where they were and noticed them ... well, being unnoticed.  There were a few people that were sitting close to me that I didn't know and I introduced myself to them as I made my way closer to my friends to say hello (again) and introduce them to Chris.

I'm sure that there were several  that said hi and welcomed them to Hopedale -- I just didn't see anybody do that and I did see several people pass by them to say hi to people they knew.  I have to say that this made me kind of sad and a little bit embarrassed.  Let's spend that time to make sure that our guests are made to feel welcome and we can talk to each other before or after church.

The Ugly

For the ugly, we have to go back to Sunday School and one of the hardest verses of scripture in the entire Bible.  God tells Ezekiel, "Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me.  When I say to the wicked, ‘O wicked man, you will surely die,’ and you do not speak out to dissuade him from his ways, that wicked man will die for his sin, and I will hold you accountable for his blood. But if you do warn the wicked man to turn from his ways and he does not do so, he will die for his sin, but you will have saved yourself."

If this still hold true today (and I believe that it does), then we are accountable for the people that we don't warn about God's judgment and share His plan of reconciliation through His Son, Jesus.

So, for whom are you accountable?  Which of your friends and family will die without knowing the truth of God's judgment and God's grace?  Will you one day stand before God and have to answer for not sharing His grand story with somebody that is now eternally separated from Him?

If you're wondering if God would condemn somebody because of our failure, the answer is no. They are condemned because of their sins. But the scripture tells us that we bear some responsibility in having kept the warning a secret.

Have you been living your life apart from God? Have you ignored God in favor of something else (an idol of our own making)? Is your life wrapped up in kids activities, sports, hobbies, tv, social networks, even church activities?  Consider this to be your warning!

Remember: As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. -- Ezekiel 33:11

Turn to God. Seek His grace. Live.

John <><

1 comment:

Amanda said...

I try to be friendly when we go to church but mostly, I'm just apologetic and embarrassed because we tend to make noise and always have a runaway toddler distracting people. Thankfully, I have felt that the people around me were friendly and somewhat understanding.