Is your church connected to the community where it resides? Are you connected to that community or are you like most of us who press the garage door opener and speed frantically out of our little bastions of brick and mortar at sunrise and back again at sunset? If your life depended on it could you name the families who live in your cul-de-sac? If you are not connected to your street your church is not connected to its community. If there is no connection it is not relational. To believe otherwise is a wee bit delusional.
Jesus is eternally relational—that is, He is connected. The zeal for relationship is one of the chief characteristics and qualities of God and was present in the perfect bond of the Godhead prior to creation. This amazing passion was bequeathed to the first man and woman and was one of the original qualities that made them like God. As human beings we all hunger for relationship, and yet for some reason we think it will happen even if we are disconnected relationally from everyone around us.
We have become far too independent believing all we need is contained in our home, our job, and our family. That mindset has translated itself into the fabric of our churches and the mentality of the body of Christ has become one of self-service rather than selfless service. We approach church like we do the drive-thru at Mickey D’s, thinking we can take what we need, pay for what we want, and leave everything and everyone else behind as we dine on the deadly junk food of religion. I say this because you can have your religion without relationship, but if you do, you won’t have Jesus.
And that’s where we stand in many churches today. We have a form of godliness—a look, a sound, a smell, and a name, but we’re missing one thing—Jesus. He has left the building like the proverbial Elvis and is wandering about our communities looking for a person or two who will build a relationship with people like Bill who’s lost, lonely, and frantically trying to find an escape from the overwhelming grief of losing his wife of over 45 years, or with Mildred who has no social life because she works three jobs just to pay the bills her husband left her with when he walked out three years ago, or the Smith twins who have no daddy and whose mother can barely keep up with their baby sister, much less both of them, or a thousand other nameless faces we drive past on our way to and from church each Sunday. These are the people who need Jesus, but it’s unlikely they will meet Him. Why? We are not connected to them—there is no relationship from which to make that vital introduction.
As Jesus walked through the crowd He touched people. He touched the poor and the prosperous—the sick and the strong—the demonized and the debutantes. He touched them because real relationship is impossible without contact. He understood the necessity of meeting with them on their level and then walking with them to a new level. He knew that a change of heart would bring a change in their day-to-day scenery. But…it began with a first contact—the building blocks of relationship.
Delusions of grandeur are drowning the church if she thinks they (the nameless who watch as we drive by on Sunday morning) will come simply because we’ve opened our doors. We must become intentionally relational. Why? Personal invitations are the ones people respond to most often. Don’t think so? Take a long hard look at the one Jesus sent you personally from the cross.