The Weekly Epistle 5/31/23

Hi Church,
Barney Fife. He’s not the guy you would want to be on the church’s security team. In one particular episode of the Andy Griffith Show, Andy Taylor, the sheriff of Mayberry, is out of town. His deputy, Barny Fife, is in charge, and he has deputized Gomer, the local mechanic. 

The two deputies are walking down the street one evening when they notice that someone is robbing the bank. They hide behind a car. They are afraid and don’t know what to do. Finally, Gomer looks at Barney and says excitedly, “Shazam! We need to call the police.” 

In utter exasperation, Barney shoots back, “We ARE the police.” 

Just when we may wonder why the church isn’t doing something about (fill in the blank) we stop and realize, “We are the church.” When our first instinct might be to blame the church for its inactivity toward reaching out to meet some need, we should remember, “we are the church.” 

I am reminded of the scene in Nehemiah’s day when Nehemiah went to Jerusalem to inspect the damage done to walls and gates of the city of Jerusalem. He then said to his fellow Jews, “You see the trouble we are in; Jerusalem lies in ruins and its gates have been burned with fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace” (Nehemiah 2:17). 

The truth is, they didn’t see the trouble they were in. Or if they did see it, they chose not to do anything about it. It took Nehemiah to not only state the problem, but to do something about it. Frankly, seeing the problem is easy. It isn’t enough to see the trouble we are in. It is not enough to verbalize the problems or be critical of the ruins. The task of the church is not stand around and bemoan, “Look at the mess we are in. Oh, we’ve got a problem, and I hope the church does something about it. 

Wait! We are the church! Notice Nehemiah says, “Come let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace.” 

Nehemiah then calls the people together. He lays out his vision. He comes alongside of them as if to say “We have a big project. We will tackle this together. We are in this together.” On a personal note, I hope I come across to you that way- we, not you. What I call you to is the same call on my life. We are the church! 

The Jews then responded with, “Let us start rebuilding.’ So, they began this good work” (Nehemiah 2:18b). 

I am not suggesting that every problem is yours to take on. There are many reasons for you not being part of the solution. Each of us have to work that out before God in prayer. I would simply invite you to talk to God about the problem first, then be open to how God may want to use you to address that problem. 

“God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be,” Paul says in 1 Corinthians 12:18. And he reminds us, “Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it” (1 Corinthians 12:27). We ARE the church! 

Blessings to you, Pastor Brian