Seeking the Lost, Serving the Saved

A pastor came home one day to find his daughter arguing with her friends in the bedroom. From the front hallway he could hear them yelling and calling each other names, so he quickly made his way up the stairs.

"What’s going on in here?" he asked as he entered the room.

His five-year-old looked up at him and smiled. "It’s okay, Daddy. We’re just playing church!"

We laugh at a scene such as that, but the reality is much darker and far more serious that we often realize. A sad but true fact is that the church is often thought of as being out of touch and insensitive to what is going on in the world. Often, the church is seen as being so wrapped up within itself that it has no compassion on, or time for a world that is perishing. In fact, there are many outside the church that would rather turn anywhere for help but to the church.

The motto on the First Christian Church’s website boldly states “Seeking the Lost and Serving the Saved.”  I don’t know about you, but my heart’s desire is that we are the church where lost folk can come and find help, a place where the saints can come and find a home and hope for their lives.

But what do we need to become that church? Some will say we need to be a church that has contemporary music.. with, perhaps, a rock band leading the worship. Others will say we need to have traditional hymns.. Some even go so far as specify a certain Hymn Book should be used.

There are those that say to be the “true” church we should use only certain translations of the scriptures, forbidding the use of all others.

People place emphasis on certain orders of worship and times that the services must be held, allowing for no variation.

However, none of these things determine if a church is fulfilling its mission to “seek the lost and serve the saved”

To understand what it means to be the church we must consider what the word means. The origin of the word Church can be found in the Greek word ecclesia which means “those called out.” Meaning that the church.. The ones that worship Jesus as Christ .. are called out.. separated.. different from the rest of the world.

How are we to differ from the world? In the way we love.. Paul writes in Romans 5: 6You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 8But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Jesus said in John 13:34, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” The “fine print” is that phrase, “even as I have loved you.”

The world loves its own.. But Christians are called to not only love their own but to love the unlovable… We are to show love without favor… We are to love the way the Lord loves.

I read of a church that refused to have a contemporary service for young people, who prefer rock music and a casual format and a separate traditional, more formal service for the older folks, who prefer hymns with organ accompaniment. They felt the separation wrongly divides the church along age lines. The older folks need the fresh enthusiasm of the young people and the young people need the wisdom and stability of the older folks… The answer? Each group was accepting of the other and the services were a delightful mix of worship styles, with each group growing a new appreciation of the other.

Of course, there are other churches that do have separate services and they are doing very well. It is simply a matter of choice. But we need to understand that choice is not what creates the church that “Seeks the lost and serves the saved.” We can only become that church when we learn to love as Jesus loves.