Last Sunday at our church our pastor Brian led us in the first message of his series on biblical marriage entitled: After The Happily Ever After. Although there were many great truths from this message one experience Brian shared with us stuck with me the most. Brian shared with us that at one point in the past he went up to hug and kiss on his wife Carrie. Carrie smiled and turned to Brian and said, “What is it that you want?” While this sounds like an endearing and humorous moment to most of us, Brian enlightened us that it cut him to his core and that this experience made him re-evaluate the way that he showed love to his wife. Brian said that it was a disgrace that Carrie, after being hugged and kissed on, thought that he wanted something, that she thought that he was using his affection to get something out of her. Brian later in this message shared that he came to Carrie after this and repented of his actions and apologized for his mistake that so many men make. Now he shows Carrie his love freely and with no strings attached and he said that there are times lately that he has felt that they are on their honeymoon again. He can’t wait to talk to her, take her out, and just tell her about his day because of the joy that loving freely has brought to their marriage. After Brian shared this I could not help, but think: Wow this is exactly a picture of how The Church should love their community, but sadly this is not what is happening and the truth is that most churches show their love to the community, but only to expect something in return.
The reality is that almost anytime churches set out to serve people within their community they are looking to either 1. get donations or 2. market their church/ promote a series that is coming up. How many times have you seen church car washes or church lemonade stands where they serve you, but at the end expect something in return? Due to this abuse, we have lost our reputation as a body of believers who are willing to freely give and freely love with NO STRINGS ATTACHED! Now when we serve people in our community most people look at us with a cynical face and say, and what is it that you guys exactly want? I believe that just like Brian repented of his actions towards his wife Carrie we must repent of the way we show love in our community as a church. We must get back to the point where we, the Church, are willing to show people that Jesus loves them through our words AND actions…. and those actions being completely free of any obligation to the people we are serving. You see it was not that Brian did not love Carrie when he hugged and kissed on her and she thought he just wanted something in return. But it was just that Brian was not showing his love freely and outwardly on a consistent basis enough for Carrie to come to the conclusion that he was just loving on her because he loved her. It is the same with most churches. Most churches truly love their community and want to see non-believers come to know Jesus; they just show their love in the wrong way by expecting something in return. So let’s change this by serving freely and on a consistent basis!
Our local church has set out with this objective to serve people with no strings attached on at least a weekly basis. We like to put on free car washes, giveaway free lemonade on a hot day, rake people’s yards for free, etc. Because people usually are asked for donations or handed a marketing brochure after they are served, we often get the question, “Why are you guys doing this… what do you want?” We have coached our servers just to simply respond, “We want nothing in return, we just wanted to remind you that Jesus loves you and His love is free, all you have to do is accept it.” sometimes we simply say, “We just wanted to show you God’s love in a practical way with NO STRINGS ATTACHED.” I like to think that when we serve people with no strings attached we are sometimes giving them a new first impression of who Jesus and the Church truly is. My prayer is that sometime in the future the Church loves people so freely that when they are handed a cold bottle of water on a hot day or given a free car wash by a church that will be the norm and not an anomaly. So come on, let’s set out to love people freely with no expectations because when we do, that is when the Holy Spirit moves the most and we will have the joy similar and better than that of having a thriving joyful marriage.