I started a new Bible study this week by an author I've never read before. Honestly, I hesitate to use her name and study name for the simple fact that I don't want to discourage anyone from her studies. (She's very, very good!) But something she said in her teaching video, and referred to in her study guide has got me thinking. She challenges the group study members to get out of the church to go reach the hopeless and broken.
I know there are homeless people within just a few miles of where I live. I know there are financially desperate and needy people down the road. I know there are hungry people within a stone's throw of my church. Yet, I can't help but think of the hopeless and broken sitting right inside the church walls. I know they're there. I used to be one of them. And if they're like I was, they don't let anyone know it. They wear masks.
I sat in service after service, month after month, wondering if God was even real. Wondering why I was alive. Wondering. I went to church because it was expected of me. And because I didn't want my children to think poorly of me. And while I was there, I wasn't there. My mind was broken, hopeless, defeated, tormented. But from the outside, you'd have never suspected anything was wrong with me.
I know beyond a shadow of a doubt, we are called to take care of those outside of the church who are in need. And I'm not suggesting in any way that we neglect them, or not take care of them. In fact, we'd be disobedient not to care for them. But I think we sometimes overlook those in the midst of us who are in need. Just because someone doesn't need food, shelter, or some other physical need met doesn't mean they aren't in need. It doesn't mean they aren't desperate. It doesn't mean they aren't hopeless and broken. And when people are hopeless and broken, they aren't capable of being Jesus' hands and feet.
It's time the church, as a whole, quits promoting the masks, and starts sharing the healing grace of Jesus. It's time we start being transparent with the person in the pew next to us. It's time to dig deeper, get real and get personal...get past the masks. Because when the masks come off, healing starts to occur. And when the body of the church is healed, she is then better able to get outside of the church walls to care for others who are hopeless and broken.