bits from bob....
Help! Under any circumstance, that word genuinely spoken strikes fear in the heart and demands action. Someone is in trouble. Someone is in need. Danger is at hand. How can we hear plaintive pleas for "help" when the difficulties are physical, and manage to generally ignore the pleas of our world for spiritual assistance?
The church must be a place of help! Certainly we must show compassion toward physical suffering. The hungry need food, the thirsty need drink, the outcasts and lonely need visits. Jesus expects no less if Matthew 25 is to be believed. Only the most callous hearts are not touched by sickness, hunger, and suffering. In a world of malnutrition, contaminated water, and unclothed children, the church cannot help but sensitively respond.
But are we not also called to do something that will make an even greater difference? Is the help and hope we provide "this worldly" only? Is it not also, even primarily, "other worldly"? One of the main sufferings of the church at the beginning of the twenty-first century is that of low self-esteem. Many churches see themselves as having very little impact, as making very little difference. We are busy, but not much changes. Many efforts appear fruitless. Church attendance is stable at best, declining in general, and society's attitude toward the church is often one of disdain and lowered trust. Amidst frequent warnings that we not buy into culture, deep down we suspect that neither are we penetrating the culture with the ever-relevant message of Jesus Christ.
Will the church provide spiritual help? Listen to three pleas from our world.
I NEED HELP.
I need spiritual support. I want to find God--to be in touch with God.
The results of a recent survey focus the issue. A major task of the church is spiritual development. Are we becoming stronger spiritually? Are we finding God? Our generation is less irreligious than many have thought. New Age, mysticism, reflective Eastern religious, and even supernaturalism are all evidence of a search for a faith experience that touches the divine and makes a difference in this world. Our world wants to know--can the church help?
I NEED HOME.
I need spiritual roots to walk in this world.
The last three decades have been turbulent--wars and rumors of wars, devastating divorces, broken homes, loneliness, isolation, alienation, hostility, distrust, rootlessness. Ours is an impersonal world where personal identity is often marred and blurred. Self-seeking self-help books don't help. One can't clearly see oneself when cut off from family and God. Our world wants to know--can the church help?
I NEED HOPE.
I need spiritual wings to fly toward the future.
In this disconnected world, can the church help me connect? Where can I be whole, find relationships that will make a difference, and find oneness with God and peace within? Our world wants to know--can the church help?
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