A man walks into a church and says, “I am lonely here.” The church responds, “You are stressed and need space.”
A man walks into a pub and says, “I am lonely here.” The pub responds, “Pull up a chair, I’ll pour you a pint.”
A man walks into a doctor and says, “I am lonely here.” The doctor replies, “Have these antidepressants.”
Which of these three understand the value of community?
I am not lonely. I am lucky enough to be surrounded by good friends outside of church that are always there for me. But having experienced loneliness, these responses struck me as ironic. Traditionally, doctors were all about physical health, but a community doctor now has to understand a variety of mental health issues and can feel obliged to medicate. Theologically, the church should be the home of welcome, embracing the broken. And yet, the pub gives the best response. Story of the Good Samaritan, anyone?
I look at the result of the European vote and wonder how my home, Britain, can behave how it now chooses to behave, with increases in political game play, racial hate and intolerance. Then I look at the church that has failed to fully embrace its calling, and I see why our country is weak.
Church. Get off your backside and engage with the world. Don’t file away problems, embrace them with love. Declare that grace is an ocean so deep we can dive in and never reach the bottom. Declare forgiveness, because that’s what Jesus did on the cross. Church, build God’s Kingdom so that darkness fears. Be set on fire by God’s example and, for God’s sake, stop your obsession with tea and coffee!
But most of all, open your eyes and see the God that does not follow routine. Dive into the adventure of faith that is so much more than a social club for Sunday’s. Be the person that makes a difference and live.