Picture a group of believers reading through a well-worn Bible while gathering secretly in a believer's home. They know that there is a great risk for meeting if they are caught, but the truth found in the Bible surpasses any danger they face. They know that they are reaching for the promise of eternal life and want to share that truth with their family and friends. Now picture a church where the believers can worship freely and they have no fear of being imprisoned if the government finds out about their existence. In fact, these believers can meet as many times as they want in their building and have so many resources at their finger tips. But after their worship service is over they complain about the song the worship pastor chose to sing and the way the worship team was dressed. What is wrong with this picture? Why is it that the underground church is growing so fast and the free church is in decline in parts of the world? Jesus speaks to this in Matthew 11:20-24.
Jesus speaks to towns and villages who had the opportunity not just to hear of Christ, but to experience Him. They saw Him walk their streets and heard His message. They saw Him perform many miracles, yet they refused to repent and believe. Yet, Jesus tells us that other towns that were known to be full of sin would have repented immediately. The very people who should have known Him most were the ones who rejected Him, yet the people who didn't know were the ones to accept, repent, and believe. God gave His people a special relationship with Him and resources that no one else had, and they chose to continue on in their own way. Jesus points out that the judgement for those who should know better will be harsher than for the ones who didn't know. I think this is a warning that we should all consider.
For those of us who are living in the free world and can worship together whenever we want, we need to consider that there is a reason that God put us where we are. Why did God have us living in a place where there is freedom and resources when there are so many believers living with no resources and have to worship underground? Have you considered that there is a responsibility for those of us who have the freedom and resources? Have you considered how it makes God feel when our focus as we gather to worship is about the color of the carpet or which version of the Bible we use when there are so many believers who sit on a dirt floor and have one Bible shared among an entire church? Have we really become so spoiled?
This isn't about feeling guilty; this is about recognizing the responsibility that God has given us. We need to recognize that we need to be accountable with what God gave us - we cannot keep it to ourselves to make us comfortable. I am not saying that the free church needs to worship on the dirt floor because we do need to reach out to the culture that is surrounding us; however, we also need to recognize that the church isn't just about ourselves. It is about all the believers around the world and reaching out to the lost. It is about considering others over ourselves; it is about considering how we can step out of our own comfort in order to reach out to the lost. Let us be responsible with the many resources God has given us and worship Him fully.
What has God given you to share?
This post is linked with Thought Provoking Thursday.