For eight years of my life, I was a part of a civic group called Sertoma. It is a shortened name that represents “Service to Mankind.” It was an enriching time as I got to know people in the town, and we worked together to help those who had hearing issues. It was like most civic organizations that exist to help others and do good things for the people in the community.
I fear that many Churches are becoming glorified civic groups. The primary reason that it meets is for people to help others and do good things for the community. That in and of itself is not a bad thing. The second greatest command, according to Jesus, is for us to love our neighbor. The process of loving others includes doing several good things for them.
The trouble comes when Jesus is moved to the background. In an effort to get more people serving, we set aside the Jesus element and allow anyone to come and be a part. As Jesus drifts into the distance, the group loses sight of why it exists. The Church is a community of people who are committed to following Jesus. The very name means “called out ones.” Christians are not like the world in their views, worship, approach to life, and teaching because of their commitment to Jesus as their Lord and Savior.
It is gracious to offer people food, clothing, shelter, and company. But it must not come at the neglect of the most significant need of everyone. People need a Savior! Someone can clothe, comfort, and cover people right into hell. We are sinners in desperate need of forgiveness. We are not right with God. Only in Jesus do we find the peg that will fill the hole in our hearts.
When the Church becomes a civic group, the community does not gain an ally; instead, it loses the savior it needs. Sure, the name Church may remain on the sign, but it is no longer a congregation of Jesus.
Each week I stand up to teach the truth that I pray will transform lives. I encourage people to love their neighbors in every way. I also teach them about our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. That is what the world needs more of today, and not less.