- September 30, 2020
Do you have any needy people in your life? I’m not referring to people who are in need. You can be in need and not be needy. We all face times of need, and thankfully we have friends and family to lean on in those difficult seasons. The kind of people I’m referring to are
Do you have any needy people in your life? I’m not referring to people who are in need. You can be in need and not be needy. We all face times of need, and thankfully we have friends and family to lean on in those difficult seasons.
The kind of people I’m referring to are the ones who can’t seem to live without your attention. They call or text you constantly and want you involved in everything they’re doing. They impose themselves on you. They are always in crisis mode and need your help—while seemingly unaware that you also have a life and needs of your own. They’re oblivious to how much of your time they take up. They act like they don’t have any other friends and make you feel guilty if you don’t take time to be with them. You try to distance yourself from them, but they seem so helpless or pathetic that you just can’t seem to cut them off.
I must confess that I gleaned this description of a needy person from a dating blog – it was the first site that came up when I typed define a needy person into my search bar. I have a feeling that most of us have needy people in our lives. We instinctively let out a long sigh if we see their name on caller ID, or we duck behind a rack of clothes if we see them at the mall. It’s not that we don’t care about them or love them, it’s just that we can’t afford the endless drama and the constant drain on our time, emotions and wallet.
Our church is currently in a season where we are reaffirming our mission, purpose and vision. We do this on occasion to make sure we haven’t experienced mission drift. Mission drift is very subtle, and that’s why every organization must take time to reaffirm their guiding principles.
Our church purpose statement is this: We purpose to be a place where anyone can believe, belong and become in Jesus Christ. In this article, we’re going to consider one fundamental aspect of what it means to be a place where people can believe in Jesus – something every Christian church values.
Did you know that churches can be needy? Take a moment to reread the description of a needy person, but instead of picturing an individual, picture a church. Sadly, I have been in some churches where that description fits. I’m not passing judgement – I’m just recognizing that churches sometimes suffer long seasons of neediness. Instead of being ready to pour grace on others, they are constantly trying to get something from others—attendance, money, volunteerism, validation. That neediness is off-putting. Like needy people, needy churches are not attractive, nor are they easy to be around. Friends, if we are going to be a church where people can believe in Jesus, then our local Bodies of Christ must be thriving, not just surviving. In other words, our cups need to be full to overflowing with grace!
In Psalm 23, David describes the incredible grace that flows from God’s presence. Toward the end of the passage he declares, my cup overflows. The overflow of grace is what makes churches effective. So how do churches sustain an overflow of grace? Doing so begins in the heart of each individual believer:
Genuinely love God and serve Him with all of your heart, mind, soul and strength. Be flooded by the artesian well of God’s grace that is available through the Word of God, Prayer, the Holy Spirit, the Body of Christ and the Mission of God. To be a place where people can believe in Jesus, each believer must seek to daily fill their lives with God’s grace. If our individual cups are overflowing, then we will have the ability to . . .
Genuinely love and serve our brothers and sisters in Christ. As we love and serve each other (See Acts 2:42-47, 4:32-37 and Galatians 6:10), our Body of Christ will be a reservoir overflowing with grace. Our generosity and compassion must first flow to our brothers and sisters in Christ. That’s what the early church did and it overflowed with so much grace that it turned the world upside down! When we genuinely love one another deeply from the heart, we will have the ability to . . .
Genuinely love and receive those who are weary and heavy laden. See Matthew 11:28. Their cups aren’t overflowing. They are lost and broken. They are thirsty and long to be filled with grace. God will see our overflow and He will send them to us so their cups can be filled. When we overflow with grace, we are a place where people can believe in Jesus.
Jesus’ life overflowed with grace. His heart ached for the lost and broken. He wanted to be with them, to save and heal them. The religious rulers disapproved of Him, “Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners. He receives sinners and eats with them.” See Luke 7:34 and 15:2. Because of the overflow of grace in His life, Jesus was able to pour grace on others.
If the religious leaders watched us church people today, would we be worthy of the same criticism they leveled on Jesus? Would they call us a friend to sinners? Are the lost and broken welcome at our churches? Not too long ago, a person criticized our church for gaining a reputation of being a place where sinners are welcome to attend. I think they meant it as an insult – but it was actually one of the highest compliments our church has ever received. They simply affirmed that our church overflows with grace, and when the weary and heavy laden show up – we’re ready to pour grace on them. Thanks be to God! His grace is amazing!
Friends, God is not asking for us to approve sinners. Nor is He asking us to judge them. He alone is the Judge and He alone has the authority to approve. All He asks is that we overflow with grace so that we can receive them and allow His love and grace to flow into them. When we do, our churches will be places where anyone can believe in Jesus Christ. Amen.