Our pastor's in the middle of a sermon series on reaching the unreached. This is a very common theme in his sermons, as I know he has a heart for those who don't yet know Jesus' love. The sermons have all been good, moving, convicting, and I wholeheartedly agree I need to do more to be neighborly.
That being said, he focused today a lot on "the broken and needy," implying that that is exclusively people who are unchurched. This bothers me a great deal, as I feel it assumes that people in the Church aren't broken and don't have needs. He talked about the widows and the orphans, again implying these are people outside of the Church who need the help and love of the Church. But I couldn't help thinking, "What about the widows and orphans inside the Church? Are we neglecting the legitimate physical, emotional, and relational needs of our church members simply because they are 'saved'?"
We discussed William Booth's vision as portrayed below (more info here).
Do we sometimes reach into the water to pull people out and then just assume they make their way to safety and security, turning away to "rescue" someone else without realizing they are slipping back into the frigid water? Are we so focused--with tunnel vision, perhaps--on the people struggling in the water to see the people tottering on the edge of the platform, or already slipping off, hanging on for dear life to the slippery edge?
I want to have a heart for the lost, as Jesus had a heart for the lost. Absolutely I want that.
But I don't think--in my understanding of Jesus--that he would have us neglect the needs of those who are already "saved" and in the Church. I'm not saying we need to have more potlucks or family activities or Sunday school classes or whatever. Those things are fine, but that's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about people in the Church who are hurting and broken and needy. Doesn't the Church have a responsibility to minister to them as well? Where is the balance?
I speak as one who is broken and hurting. How can I reach out to grab someone from the water when I myself am barely hanging on for dear life? And I know I'm not alone. I speak for the thousands upon thousands of churchgoers out there who are grieving, hurting, broken. As a Church, in your haste to rescue the lost--who I know need rescuing--please take some time to pull us back to safety so we are better prepared, in due course, to reach out to others.