By this time it was late in the day, so his disciples came to him. “This is a remote place,” they said, “and it’s already very late. Send the people away so that they can go to the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.” But he answered, “You give them something to eat.” – Mark 6:30-44
I know I may come across as an over-the-top advocate for church sometimes, and some may think I’m just trying to get people in the door because my wife is a preacher. But that’s not it at all – it’s not about any one church it’s about a restored relationship with God, and you don’t have to come to Wake Forest Presbyterian Church to make that happen.
We certainly don’t have the exclusive scoop when it comes to what’s right about church… and we absolutely don’t have the corner on what’s wrong; we’re just a gathering of people who have made a decision to follow Jesus in the context of intentional community.
To be honest, I believe a little too much is made about what makes a church “right” or “wrong.” As if some people understand God so well that it’s not enough we love God, love our neighbor, and follow Jesus – they want us to conform to their interpretations, with an added overlay of pharisaic religious rules!
Authenticity Trumps Doctrine:
I happen to love this particular faith community because I believe the people here are faithful and authentic. We do our best to live according to the light we have, in response to God’s wide-open love, guided by our deep commitment to scripture. Here’s an example, and I thought of it because this afternoon some of us will be heading downtown once more to serve food to Raleigh’s hungry:
True story: A few months ago around thirty of us were serving a wonderful meal to some 120 guests. I offered a devotional thought, said grace, and helped our friends to their tables with a tray.
“What did you say the name of your church was?” one man asked between bites of a delicious chicken casserole. “Wake Forest Presbyterian,” I said.
“I thought that’s what you said,” he responded, chomping down on a fresh-baked garlic roll. “I heard tell about that church and how you don’t follow the Bible.”
“We don’t follow the Bible?” I replied, pausing to make sure the man had enough new clothes and a coat to keep him warm. “How do you reckon?”
“Well, that other church (he named a local megachurch) pick us up in a bus Sunday mornings. The preacher, Pastor _______, he’s said several times how your church ain’t Bible-believing and ain’t right….”
Then he proceeded – between mouthfuls of the homemade dessert he was thoroughly enjoying – to mimic the preacher’s rant against Presbyterians.
“Well isn’t that interesting,” I said. “I certainly will pray for his heart, and yours too. By the way, can I serve you another plate of food?”
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Don’t forget to show up for worship at your local church this morning. And don’t forget to invite Jesus with you back out into the community, as you serve in his name.
In love, and because of love – DEREK