Romans 12:1-2 - I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
The other day I had the privilege to listen to a man lambast the Christian church.
There was nothing new in what he said. He spoke about how we were all hypocrites, foolish, prejudiced, law oriented, judgmental, selective, rude, cruel, and responsible for every societal ill from slavery to global warming. He also said the amount of sin left in the world means we are pretty ineffective. That's why he concluded by suggesting the best thing the church could do for the world is shut our doors.
I sure was impressed by what he said in his polite and polished persuasive presentation.
I sure wish I could have talked to him. If I had had the opportunity I would have said, do you close the physician's office because the world still has sickness? Of course, you don't. To combat sickness is the reason that office is open. Do you shut down the fire departments because houses and businesses catch fire, or do you pull the police off the streets because your community has seen its share of crime? These responders are there to take a stand against evils.
Similarly, it isn't wise to shut down the church because you still see evidence of sin.
The church has been created by God to use imperfect Christians to call others to faith, to witness to the Savior's salvation, to take a stand against sin. Are we perfect? Have we done God's will without stumbling or without mistake? Of course not. Are we perfect? Of course not.
But we are trying, and in some places, we are succeeding.
In my files I have a story I would like to share. It is a story which comes from a conscientious first- grade Sunday school teacher. By that I mean she told her students all about the love of Jesus who had died and risen to save them from their sins. How much they grasped of her lessons, she was never quite sure, so she left that knowledge to the Lord.
One day, however, He did give her a glimpse of what the Holy Spirit was doing through her.
As I said, she taught these children. Along with the lessons, she also taught them simple songs: songs like "Jesus loves the little children, all the little children of the world." And "If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands." She would teach them the words, but the Lord taught those children to sing with enthusiasm. That's the way it was the day a guest came to her class.
He was a little boy without a right arm. The teacher looked at the children; the children looked at the new boy without an arm. Silently the teacher prayed that nobody would make a big deal of the boy's difference and cause him embarrassment. Amazingly, nobody said a thing. Not a thing.
At the end of class, it was time to sing. The class worked through their repertoire, and the visitor even knew the words to some of the songs. All went well until the teacher announced, "Let's sing, 'If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands.'"
The words weren't out of her mouth before she knew she had done the very thing she had prayed her children would avoid. Still, there was no turning back. She took a breath to begin and noticed one of her little girls lean over and say to the boy, "Let's you and I clap our hands together." And they did. His left hand and her right. We may not do everything right, but that picture is also a likeness of God's church, and His people serving the Savior, and lending a hand.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, forgive us for those times when our lives, thoughts, and actions are less than the best. Grant us the grace to show thanks to the Savior for all He has done and make a witness to the world which unfairly judges Jesus by our shortcomings. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries
To Download Devotion MP3 to your computer, right click here and select "Save Link As" or "Save Target As" or "Download Linked File As"