My title for this devotion is the way Rick Warren started his multi-million best-seller, The Purpose Driven Life. It could serve as a motto for every church member. Archbishop William Temple once said, “The church is the only organization that does not exist for itself but for those who live outside of it.”
Think about that! The church exists for those who live outside of it. That means just getting our needs met is not enough. Having our usual place to sit in church, having music we like, attending worship at a time that fits our schedule because we make donations or have been a member for decades is the kind of expectation that works in just about every other place in the world. But not the church.
Church is a place where we willingly give up our rights and preferences so others can find hope. Eventually, those who experience that hope become part of the community of servants who give hope to others. That is how God changes the world.
Every Sunday we can practice this principle in small ways. When we purposely park further away from the building so others will have a more convenient place, we carry out our mission. When we go with the flow of changes in the church IF THE REASONS FOR THOSE CHANGES ARE TO REACH OTHERS OUTSIDE THE CHURCH, we carry out our mission. When we go out of our way to recognize people we do not know because we believe that when we take notice of others it is the way God takes notice of them, we carry out our mission.
You may have heard this story before, but when Billy Graham was a teenager he and a friend went to the church where the famous evangelist Mordecai Ham was preaching. They arrived late and couldn’t find a seat and so headed out the door to leave. An usher watched all this, bolted from his chair and ran the boys down. He urged them to come back inside and led them to his seat. He knew the person in the next chair and coaxed him into giving up his seat for the other boy. It was at that service Billy Graham responded to the invitation to devote his life to Christ.
Millions in the world today credit their coming to faith in Christ to a Billy Graham crusade, but few of them would know that they are also indebted to a church usher in Charlotte, NC.
You never know what a simple sacrifice or invitation might mean…but God does. Just keep saying to yourself, “It’s not about me.” Don’t miss this Sunday as we share lots of great ways to invite people to come to St. Luke’s in the coming months and just possibly experience life changing hope through Christ. It’s just one way we can let our light shine.