Over the past few years, God has shown me so many things! He has removed the scales from my eyes! First and foremost, He’s taught me to trust Him, and that it isn’t always easy; it’s a CHOICE! He’s shown me how incredibly wrong I was about so many things, on so many levels, which is very painful, yet necessary. He’s taught me to love better, and have more compassion for those, some consider to be less than desirable. He’s placed people in my life, (I emphasize placed because our God is a purposeful God!) and in my family’s lives, who’ve ministered to us, prayed for, and with us, and loved us through very difficult circumstances. He’s shown me how THE church is supposed to operate as THE body of Christ.
How thankful I am that our God is so patient and long suffering with His stubborn children!
Today, I want to tell you about a true story. This conversation really took place, and unlike some of my blogs, every part of this one is true! 🙂 The way some people see THE Church baffles me. I hear things people say about my church all the time! That church is just for drug addicts. I heard someone got arrested there?! What were the cops doing at OneEighty Friday night? That place looks like a nightclub with all the people smoking outside! Well, listen to me, and listen good! You’re dang right all that has happened! And then some! And guess what?! If you think, for one minute all that isn’t normal for church??!! YOU’RE WRONG! I’d go so far as to say that you don’t know much about Jesus! There. I said it! If you don’t like it, you’d better not read the rest of this blog!
A while back, I got out in the rain and went to yard sales. I ended up at the home of an elderly man. As I approached the house, I realized I’d been here before, and that I’d, most likely, be here for awhile. This sweet gentleman LOVES to talk! Sometimes it’s baffling to me how one person can find SO much to say ;-)! Nonetheless, we out-talked the rain, because we stood in his basement and talked for at least an hour.
Naturally, the subject of church came up. How could it not? There’s one on every corner in Springville! We were discussing some area churches, (aka, gossiping) when he said, “What about that place beside Burton’s?!” As if to say, What’s up with THAT place!? Before I could say anything, he said, “I heard that place was FULL of drug addicts!”
I suppose I could’ve handled this several different ways. I love our church, so naturally if I thought someone was bad mouthing us, I would want to, in the most Christian way possible, rip them a new one. However, I felt that due to his age, and the fact that he’d made mention of numerous heart surgeries, I’d handle this in a different manner.
I stood a little taller, held my head high, and said, “Yes sir! You’re absolutely right! Our church IS full of drug addicts! We also cater to some ex-cons, who could’ve been murderers, drug dealers, sex offenders, or bank robbers! There most likely are some adulterers, liars, and homosexuals there as well, I’m not absolutely positive about those things, but fairly certain. We also happen to be a church full of spiritually mature Christians. Some who’ve struggled with addictions, and various other struggles, and some who haven’t. We are simply a church!”
Needless to say, he was taken aback. I went on to tell him about our jail ministry, and how we’d baptized (I think) over 50 people at the jail! I told him about how, when the people get out of jail, they’re coming to church! I told him about how lives are being changed because people at ONEeighty care about, love, and minister to people the way Christ expects a church! I told him how much the jail ministry had meant to my family because our son was one of those drug addicts and convicted felons that OneEighty had ministered to, and not judged!
I’m not sure what he thought after I left. He did, however, tell me that he knew someone he was going to send our way because they smoked pot. I told him we’d take ’em! If that’s all they do?! They get lumped in with the saints :-)! Dang! That’s mild compared to what most of us have done!:-)
Is it a good thing that people refer to us as the church full of drug addicts? Is that REALLY the image we want? I think so! Is that how I see our church? Yes, and no. Yes, there ARE those people who DO require a smidge of extra grace, but, there are just as many people (if not more) there who are spiritually mature enough to give that grace. Yes, there may be some children there who’ve been through some rough situations with their parents; and maybe they don’t behave perfectly. So what! Aren’t those of us who are further along in our walk supposed to help those who aren’t? Isn’t the purpose of going through trials to be able to help others who may walk the same path? Shouldn’t we help those people become the person God created them to be? And just maybe, there ARE those who think we’re not a normal church. Funny thing to me is, if you read the scripture, God’s living Word, ONEeighty IS normal!
I’m proud to say that I’m a part of such a loving, caring, NORMAL church. I’m proud when people say we’re a church full of drug addicts (and the like). Aren’t we ALL sinners? Wouldn’t we ALL go to hell if it weren’t for Jesus? Isn’t the church supposed to be a place for people to heal, mature and grow? If not, God’s Word isn’t true, and all the ministering ONEeighty is doing is all for naught! Right? However, I happen to know that God’s Word IS true! And that what we do DOES matter! And I’ll be willing to bet that for every jacked up person God sends us, He’ll make sure there’s plenty of people there to minister to them!
Through Christ we are changing lives! God is changing those people into those people who love Him! Because we’re a church full of “drug addicts” we get to witness God do huge miracles! Like putting families back together and turning junkies into teachers, leaders, and preachers! That’s what I’m talkin’ about right there! Living out God’s word! WWJD! Loving people where they are, so they don’t stay where they are! You can even be a part of our family if you’re completely “normal”, but I’ll warn you…a few dead brain cells might not hurt ;-)! Yep! That’s our church!
*Christ was constantly rocking the boat to stretch his disciples and to draw in unbelievers. Every decision we make is all about two things 1. Attracting lost people who are in need of a savior 2. Growing people who are already here so that they can become devout followers of Jesus Christ. Because we believe if people fall in love with Jesus they will become passionate about telling this hurting world how great our God is! Pastor Gresh Harbuck*
Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Mark 2:17