A woman contemplates suicide. She’s a hooker, a mom, and addict. She has stooped so low as to sell not only her body, but the body of her three year old daughter to support her habit. At the end of her options, with no where to turn, she seeks out a counselor. He suggests church and she is shocked. “Why,” She asks angrily, “Would I go to church. I already feel bad enough about me. Why would I want to go someplace where I’d only be made to feel worse about myself?

A soldier sinks low in his foxhole. Bullets and rockets fly overhead. He’s been gone from home for two years fighting this war. He opens a bent and crumpled envelope. It’s from his home church. Anticipation rises within him. Expectantly he opens the letter, only to find that he has been dropped from the membership because he has fallen behind in his annual giving. When he returns home he never again darkens the door of a church.

They ‘did all the right things’ as parents. They had family devotions. They were involved in their local church. They took an active part in the social, educational and spiritual lives of their four wonderful children. They were good, Godly, caring parents. Then, within a span of two years, three of their children are taken in tragic, separate accidents. Three young lives taken before they really had a chance to bloom. Mom and Dad were never the same. The lone, remaining child struggled with drugs as he dealt with the tragic turn of his life. Throughout this tragic turn of events in this devastated family, the church remained strangely quiet.

What has happened in 2000 years that has made those who used to cling to the feet of Jesus, run from him in anger and shame? When did the church place the importance of money before the giving of one’s life for his country? How did we lose the compassion of the church in Acts to overlook the pain of our brothers and sisters?

The United States of America has more freedom, and opportunities to show the love of Christ than any country in the world. Yet churches close every week because there are no longer enough people attending to fill the pews. We are a nation of ‘empty pew people’. People who for a variety of reasons have turned their backs on the one person that can give them the fulfillment they seek.

In the book of Galatians, the Apostle Paul writes to a group of people that have fallen into the trap of legalistic thinking. They had become more intent on rules and regulations, and less concerned about living relationally. In Chapter 5, verse one he earnestly pleads with them to remember that we were born to be free.

The body of Christ needs to return to being a living organism of faith and mercy and love. Each of us has the responsibility to show the Grace of our Lord Jesus to those who might make us uneasy, or take us out of our comfort zone. Our Heavenly Father can’t do His work when we confine Him within the walls of ‘church-ianity.’

(From “When Grace Isn’t Enough: Amazingly Graceless”)