I went into a nonprofit store the other day, honestly to kill time while my wife was in a fabric store. I found myself looking through used music CD’s. I found one that peaked my interest. I read all the song titles on the back of the CD case for anything familiar. I looked up the CD on my phone to see reviews on it. I decided to buy the CD because it was only $1.91 and after all it would support a good cause.
I left the store with my purchase and drove away. Sometime later, miles away from the store, I decided to listen to the CD. It was then I discovered that there wasn’t a CD in the case! I had examined closely the exterior of the case in the store. It just never occurred to me to look inside the CD case to see what condition the CD was in much less to see if there was a CD in it at all. I felt foolish. It wasn’t worth the drive back to the store, so I tried to take some comfort in that I hadn’t paid much for it and resolved to view the purchase as a donation to the ministry.
Sometimes we become so focused on the outward that we fail to pay any attention to the inward. Ironically, sometimes we do so at the church. Ironic in that, by definition, the major emphasis and purpose of the church is about addressing the inward, what is in the human heart and spirit. Yet how often do we find churches focused on the outward things of life, like what things look like; the building, the sign, the website, etc. These all have their places and level of significance but not at the expense of what we are about; the development of disciples – the inward self: inclined, committed, and given to Christ.
Wesley wrote in his journal in August 1768 that “holiness…was love; the love of God and our neighbor; the image of God stamped on the heart; the life of God in the soul of man; the mind that was in Christ, enabling us to walk as Christ also walked.” It was an inward reorientation that effected the outward.
So, I wonder, how are we working to help people really be reoriented in this day and time in and through the church? What are we doing to lead people to genuinely love God and neighbor? Are we providing any means to lead people to have the imprint of Christ on their heart, mind and spirit? In short, are we making disciples or are folks being offered an attractive exterior that is empty?