Take a second look at robust faith

By Richard Ploch | May 05, 2014

The woman said she was glad to find a church that didn’t just “play church.” In addition to worship and Bible study, she admired the home-cooked meal program, medical equipment loan closet, fresh food distribution and donations to the local emergency relief ministry. Just like Jesus, church must be more than talk. Jesus healed, fed, and blessed the outcast, and the authenticity of this church is what attracted her. Church doesn’t happen only in the pew. I hope those who think church members are hypocrites who do not care for the poor will take another look.

There’s been much good given freely by people of our churches throughout the ages. Most of the earliest colleges and universities in this nation were founded by churches because the people believed in education. Hospitals, too — many of our hospitals began under the leadership of churches, both Roman Catholic and Protestant.

In our community, the Salvation Army, Haywood Christian Ministry, the Open Door in Waynesville, and Canton’s Community Kitchen are alive because we want to follow Jesus with a living faith and bring mercy to those who suffer. One church has a community garden and gives the harvested fresh food to the elderly; another fills backpacks so that school children will have something to eat on weekends. There are churches that open their doors to newly arrived families for a worship service in their familiar language.

Mission building teams go to remote areas of Guatemala to dig fresh water wells and build sanitary commodes. Church members show up when a tornado or hurricane devastate a town and provide the most cost-effective relief because all the time and materials are donated. Faith mission groups travel to impoverished nations to build facilities for worship, education, housing and medical clinics. A message of salvation is taken to local prisons. Physicians and dentists travel to Haiti with their church teams to perform surgeries and provide dental care while other team members build schools.

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven,” said Jesus. “But only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” Our pews are launching pads for acts of mercy covered with prayer.

Lutheran pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who, because of his active opposition to Hitler, was hanged at the Flossenburg Concentration Camp shortly before the German surrender in May 1945, warned against making the Christian life too easy. He wrote instead about a robust Christianity — “Being a Christian is less about cautiously avoiding sin than about courageously and actively doing God's will.” It’s happening now.

Rev. Richard Ploch, ploch@charter.net

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