Several years ago, I remember hearing someone tell the story of a woman who walked into the Madison Church of Christ when Ira North was the preacher there. She was in need of benevolent help and asked brother North, “Is this the church that helps people?” Now that’s some way to frame a question! How could you ever say “no” to that?
A few years ago, a man responded to the invitation after I had finished preaching. When he came forward, he went up on the pulpit and laid down flat on his face with his arms and legs spread out, while saying “hallelujah!” I went up on the pulpit, whispered in his ear, and the man followed me to the front pew and I talked with him there. Following services, one of my elders came to me and said, “What did you say to that man? How did you get him to get up and go sit down?” I replied, “I told him to get up, we don’t praise the Lord here.” Of course I was joking, but it does bring to mind this question, “As a church, for what are we known?”
Jonathan Swift (1667-1745) said “We have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love.” While that shouldn’t be the case, regrettably, sometimes it is. While it is true that a follower of Jesus must learn to hate sin, in all of its forms, he must also learn to love that which is pure, holy, and upright. In fact, Jesus once stated his disciples would be known by their love, not by the things they hate (John 13:35). I don’t want to just be known for all the things I’m against, I want to be known for the good things to which the Lord calls us to embrace and share with others.
So ask yourself this question: “For what are you known?” Are you known primarily for the things you’re against, or are you known for the things you love?