A 2009 Challenge to the Church
Years ago I read in Flora Hicks' book, Time Gone By, how in the olden days a woman's work was never done. Not much has changed there, just the tools she uses and the types of work she does.
In the olden days there was the constant preparation of meals over stoves heated by coals from the fireplace; carding cotton or wool so thread could be spun; cloth woven for the making of clothes or quilts; roots, leaves and hulls gathered for the dying of the cloth. The list seemed endless. From before daylight until after sundown, there was work to be done.
Mrs. Flora wrote, "At night they worked by firelight. They would throw on a lightered knot."
As I read this it occurred to me that the work of the church is never done either. From Sunday to Sunday the church is busy feeding a hungry world what she needs most, the love of Christ. She proclaims from the roots of the gospel that although our sins be as scarlet, they can be dyed as white as snow by Jesus. She is busy weaving trust, forgiveness, hope and unconditional love to those around, creating a "bat" from which others might be able to be woven into her fabric.
The work of the church is never done. She never gets caught up. There are always seeds of love and mercy to plant and a harvest of repentance as prodigals come home. There are wounds to mend and souls to repair.
Often the church feels weary and at times she feels like giving up. She finds that her soul is willing but her flesh is weak. Then comes the Sabbath. God encourages her to find rest and through her worship she finds rejuvenation, like a sun-parched earth receiving a slow but steady, drenching rain. She opens her arms again to meet the weary and the downtrodden. She prepares to go the extra mile, love her enemies and do to others as she wants them to do to her.
Another year has arrived and there are great challenges that lie ahead for the Christian church in 2009. The world seems darker than ever. The darker the night, the brighter the light; so won't someone throw on a lightered knot?
The church needs to recommit herself to sharing the light and warmth of the gospel in a world that is cold and uncaring. The work of the church never ends. It's a good thing, too, because even though the church is made up of forgiven sinners, were it not for the church, the body of Christ would resemble a thousand-piece jigsaw puzzle with no pieces connected.
As it is, the church, at her best, pieces together the face of Christ, his hands, his feet, his eyes, his arms. The church becomes the body of Christ to the world. So, it is our job as the body of Christ to work until Jesus comes. Only then will our work be done.
Let's keep the fire burning.
Michael Helms is pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Moultrie, Ga.