November 10, 2021
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My wife and I were in Colorado, and she said, "I want to go to a ghost town." I did too, because I was pretty sure there wouldn't be any antique stores there. So we drove many miles down this rutted road into this deserted little village called Winfield. Now it wasn't like this 100 years ago. No, then the gold and silver fever was in the air, and Winfield was alive with the boom that was going on in that area. There were fortune hunters, fortune spenders, and fortune losers.
Today, however, there are just a few buildings, stand silent; almost an outdoor museum. There were several hotels back in the boom days, saloons and one church. The church is still standing, and it should be. Though it stood there overlooking that bustling town, no services were ever held in that church. Oh, the town had a church, but the church had absolutely no effect on the people there in their frantic pursuit of wealth and pleasure.
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Church Island."
As I looked at that ghost town, I honestly couldn't help but ask, "Is that us as Christians in our town, in our world today?" We have services, but are we really making any difference? Are we connecting with our community, with the lost people all around us? Or are they just racing after their pleasure and their money, largely oblivious to what's going on inside our steepled buildings? Are we Christians living on Church Island while most of the people Christ died for are on the mainland over there, totally disconnected from Jesus and from His people? It wasn't meant to be that way.
Our word for today from the Word of God, it's in Matthew 5, beginning in verse 13. "You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled by men. You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven."
Salt can only change the flavor of the meat if it's in contact with it, right?. It does nothing at all huddled together in the salt shaker. Light can only transform the darkness in a room if it's in the room in direct contact with the darkness. Your town doesn't need all the light bulbs huddling together in a light convention. The light has to be out where the people are. Who would build a house with all the lights in one room, leaving the rest of the house dark?
We're in the first American Christian generation to be asked to represent Christ in a post-Christian country where the majority of people don't know our book, they don't know our vocabulary, and they don't know our subculture. They don't know about what our Savior could do for them. We can't do what we've always done and reach the lost people in this culture. They've got to have a chance at our Jesus though!
So, how do we break out of being Church Island surrounded by a sea of lost people? First, how about addressing their needs. If they don't care about Christ, we have to find ways to help them with things they do care about; their children, their marriage, their stress, their addiction, their emotional pain, their recovery. They'll only want to be with us if we find a need they have and try to meet it.
Secondly, we need to speak their language. We've got to move out of our Christianese vocabulary. They just don't understand it. And stretch ourselves to tell Jesus' story in words they speak. We need to love them in their language; in ways that they can feel and will mean something to them. And ultimately, we've just got to go to their world and not expect them to come to ours.
It's a sad feeling to stand in a church that had no effect on the dying people around them like the one in that ghost town. And how sad it must be for Jesus to stand in His church today and sometimes see that same thing happening. We can't be content to hunker down on Church Island, when just beyond our reach are people whose eternities are at stake.