By Robert Wayne LaCoste
The above inscription was printed in the monthly newsletter of a local Austin Baptist Church. It was mailed to my home. To answer their own question the following was then added: We offer dynamic biblical preaching to meet the needs of today’s world of emptiness, family problems, fear, sorrow, guilt, and how to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. How may we help you? If you are lonely . . . tired of the sameness in you life . . . anxious about tomorrow . . . feeling as if your world were crashing in . . . or wondering how you can go on . . . please call us.”
The preceding advertisement says a lot. It was with great sorrow I read it. It displays what most people in most churches feel the church is all about; even some in the Lord’s church. To most folks, their concept of a church is little more than it being a superior Shoal Creek or Charter Lane Hospital. In fact when I saw the ad, that’s who I thought the newsletter was from! Surely, “emptiness, family problems, fear, sorrow,” etc. are genuine issues. We all know that. However, we need also to know and understand that the Lord’s church has a greater meaning and purpose and when served, deals with these and all other problems we face in life.
Men need to realize why Jesus came and died and what the mission of his “blood bought body” (Acts 20:28) is all about. The “needs of today’s world” extend beyond loneliness or fear. We dare not simply try to treat the symptoms of a disease or try to patch a deep and serious wound with a band-aid! It is sin that is the disease. It is sin that is our great wound. Sin from over indulgence, sin from families breaking up and divorces transpiring daily. Sin, sin and more sin, in a world gone mad with no inhibition and “no fear of God before their eyes” (Psa. 36:1). Sin is why Jesus came, why the gospel was given and why the church exists today. If we want our sorrow and guilt to be dealt with, we must realize its source. We then must realize and take the remedy. The answers to our problems lie not in sociological reform or psychological analysis.
Let’s quit hunting dinosaurs with B-B guns and attack the heart of the problem! Denominational preachers and some gospel preachers I also know, would do well to preach humility, repentance and obedience to the gospel of God’s Son as they did in the first century and leave the emotional and mental problems to those more qualified! Paul preached the cross of Christ (1 Cor. 2:2; 15:1-4) so that their faith “might not stand in the wisdom of men, but in power of God” (1 Cor. 2:5). Truly the gospel is the power of God (Rom. 1:16). In the gospel is the “righteousness of God revealed” (Rom. 1:17). When will we learn to trust God and his saving gospel to deal with sin? When we get sin under control beloved, we will be in control!
The title above says something else. It is a sign of the times as to the attitude of so many. Most churches cry out, “Try us – look at what we can do for you.” Most people who are shopping around and seem to be “in the market” for a good religion, are happy to hear that, for they are also crying out a similar tune: “What can this church offer me or help me with?” People shop for churches like looking for a car. Sad.
That whole mentality dear reader is just the opposite of what it should be. We need to ask not what the church may offer or give us, but “What can I offer or give the church?” Jesus Christ came to serve, not be served. He taught his disciples that it was “more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). This type of advertisement encourages the attitude, “What’s in it for me?”
Ask yourself the question, “What is my relationship with the Lord?” (What other kind could there be but “personal”?)
Am I looking for a church that can serve me, or me it? Every child of God in every local church needs to do some soul searching and ask the question: Am I a part of this congregation to be served, to be waited on, or to be made to “feel good”? Or am I hear to serve, to wait on others and to help make them happy?
You see dear reader, the Lord knew what was best. The reason it is “more blessed to give than to receive” is because in so doing we gain our happiness by seeing others happy. It is “more blessed to give than to receive” because in so doing we become a servant and Jesus who was the world’s greatest Servant taught, “He that is greatest among you will be your servant” (Matt. 23:11).
What can you offer the Lord and his people?
Guardian of Truth XXXIV: 8, p. 229
April 19, 1990