Yesterday I had the opportunity to attend a new church. It was beautiful. The glistening lights, the radiant and exquisite stained glass windows, the ancient architecture, the unique and divine black lava exterior . . . , but something was missing!
The church had its beginnings in the 5th century, and today it continues to tower above the neighboring buildings, in height and majesty. The history in the church, much less the design, is amazing to say the least. But something was still missing!
I’ve attempted to count the number of churches that I’ve attended in my lifetime, and it amounts to at least 30. I know that sounds like a lot, but many were for research during my Seminary days.
Other times, as my family moved, we merely visited churches to see if they “fit” us for regular worship. That may sound a little weird, but I think you know what I mean. And that is what was missing last night. I didn’t fit there! Why? I didn’t see God. I’m not saying He wasn’t there, but I couldn’t feel His presence; I wasn’t drawn to Him!
So why couldn’t I feel God? One answer is that I might not have had my heart right. Maybe I wasn’t listening for Him? Or maybe it was as if they were speaking another language that I just didn’t understand? That was it. Exactly! No joke – they were speaking French, which was Greek to me.
But WHY is this important? I think that many times when we are witnessing to a “lost” person, we are speaking another language to them. And because we aren’t speaking their language, they can’t feel or see God. They don’t understand us, and thus, don’t feel drawn to God. Because of our background as Christians and attendance at Sunday School, we learn words that aren’t common to the ordinary non-believer (Salvation, lost, baptism, etc . . . ).
As we speak to them, we need to be conscious of this, and use simple terms. For example, first we shouldn’t ever call them “lost” to begin with (I’m just as guilty as anyone). They know where they are, and so does God – how can they be lost?
“Salvation” – while it is an important word to us, doesn’t mean much to them, unless we explain that it means the one way to Heaven, through Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. (and by the way “Lord” and “Savior” are also terms that aren’t common to non-believers).
So, if we return to the story, I probably won’t go back to the church I visited yesterday. Why? I just didn’t feel God; I didn’t feel that it was a place that was trying to help me. Is that the way somebody feels about us as we witness to them?