There is a social stigma that coming to a church can be overwhelming, with so many people trying to say a quick "Hi" with the hidden agenda of converting you ASAP. When taken in this light, it is understandable that a feeling of, “Where am I and what is this place?” can come to mind. But in many cases this stigma is not the case and is far from the truth.
To a Christian, the opportunity to welcome someone new is a cherished occasion because we are taught that everyone is precious, that everyone has the power to be a temple of the Holy Spirit of Christ Jesus (1 Corinthians 3:16-17; Acts 17:24).
Even though we become a temple through immersed baptism, James tells us our goal as Christians is not to see others as a place number or race them to the finish line of faith, but rather help them grow to be a quality temple: James 1:26 says, “If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person's religion is worthless.” As we greet others we should do our best to show them just how blessed a life of love and support in God’s family can be. As we do this, we should be encouraging those around us and lifting them up by teaching and practicing God’s guidance in His word (Ephesians 2:19-22; Galatians 6:10).
Like all families, there are times when some of us may fall away or make poor judgements. At these moments we need to remember that we are in fact our “brother’s keeper” (Genesis 4:8-12). We are meant to look after one another, to encourage and to be faithful. 2 Timothy chapter 1 is a great chapter on these topics in that it reminds us of the strength God puts inside each and everyone of us. With this, we are never to be afraid to speak about God and what He teaches to everyone!
We also have to be wary of our thoughts just as much as our actions. Because if our hearts and thoughts do not match our actions, that is when we are being hypocritical (James 1:26). We must also remember that God is the final and true Judge of others; we are not. We are taught to condemn sin, not the sinner, because God is the only one who can bring light to the hidden darkness in our hearts. If we hate our brothers in place of their sin, then we are not loving the way we have been taught (1 John 4:20; 1 Corinthians 4:5; Romans 2:5-12).
This article was written in response to a sermon by one of West Mason's young men, Janson Craig. Thank you to Janson and all the younger brothers and sisters who are stepping up to their roles in the church and are inspiring encouragements to us all!