I have had the privilege of watching a life that has been transformed by doing what is right. I will call the person Gus (not his real name). Gus was convicted of being involved with a young woman who was underage. He was in his forties at the time of his arrest and conviction. After serving his prison sentence, Gus was put into counseling as a part of his rehabilitation. His counselor has worked with sex offenders for years; and she has heard it all and seen it all.

They say if you ever met Gus before he was saved he smelled bad, he was dirty and unkempt. For six years his counselor saw little or no change in Gus. After six years Gus came to Christ and was discipled by a mature Christian man. In addition he began working in a food bank that was sponsored by a local church. He has been a key to the food bank’s success. Gus’s life has been transformed. Recently his counselor, we’ll call her Brenda, prayed to receive Christ. She has been impressed with a life that has been transformed through obedience. The change and healing that counseling could not do has taken place because of doing what is right.

In the months that followed, Brenda began attending a church in an outlying community. A few weeks ago a recovery group for sex offenders was meeting in an adjacent county. It was reported that one of the participants, we’ll call him Brent, stood up and said something like: “We meet week after week and say the same things over and over but we get nowhere. There’s got to be more to it than this.” In response to this complaint the psychologist leading the group suggested that Brent talk to Brenda because she had recently become a Christian. In a phone conversation this second psychotherapist admitted, “We have concluded that the solution to these men’s problems isn’t psychological but is spiritual.”

I have been in the ministry for over thirty years. I have seen many great programs that have had some impact. I have seen spectacular kid’s programs, tremendous music programs, above average sports programs with roomfuls of trophies. People have been saved (mostly children) and my ministry has experienced times of growth. But, the world has taken little notice of the traditional church ministries with which I have been associated.

Over the last few years, the church that I am now pastoring has had a growing kingdom emphasis. Kingdom ministry focuses on helping the helpless, while traditional ministry tends to focus on addressing the needs of church people. The world has taken notice of our toddler-like efforts.

Since beginning our kingdom ministries I have been invited to address the department of education in my state. I was invited to make a presentation about our church’s efforts. I invited another pastor to join me to meet with these educators. My friend’s congregation built a community center for our neighborhood. Last fall a city official asked our church to host a booth in a city park featuring our congregation’s ministry. A while back, a member of my church met with one of our United States senators. She represented our church and a mobile food bank that she and her husband run. For all of the ministry over the years: the cantatas, the softball teams, ladies’ teas, etc no one cared about what we were doing. Now with fledgling efforts in obedience even unsaved people have taken notice.

The American church seems to be floundering and weak. Only a thin polished veneer hides the confusion and weak spots. No section of the body of Christ is unaffected. Perhaps some parts seem more diseased than others but no one part is immune. While parts of the body seem polished and dynamic, the truth is the American Church is having little impact on our culture.

Our spiritual health is tied with our willingness to do what is right and pleasing in the sight of God. We must stop assuming that we can be healthy while ignoring what Christ has commanded us to do. Jesus was and still is the champion of the helpless. Matthew 25:40 reminds us that true faith is fruitful and our love for the Lord can be observed. It states “. . . inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.” If the church is to be healthy and fruitful it must imitate the Lord Jesus—there is no shortcut. There isn’t a kind of lesser Christianity that can produce healthy believers without heeding Christ’s words. Like the pagan king Nebuchadnezzar we are doomed to a kind of insanity because of our opulence, and yet by imitating Christ, there is a way of escape (compare Daniel 4:27). We are called to be like Jesus. He is the Messiah soldier:

He saw that there was no man, And wondered that there was no intercessor; Therefore His own arm brought salvation for Him; And His own righteousness, it sustained Him. For He put on righteousness as a breastplate . . . .”Isaiah 59:16-1

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(Permission is granted to use the material as long as the URL and source information are given. Copyright, Keith Churilla, 2010.)

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