The Community Actors of South Texas (CAST) have their next production coming up this weekend: “A Country Christmas Carol”. This show will be Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at the Rhema Fellowship building in downtown Bay City. I’m in the show, and you can find out more about it at http://www.communityactors.org.
I am not writing this article to simply plug the show, though I would love for you to come support CAST. It’s just that as I prepare to perform this weekend, I can’t help but reflect on all the work that must be done to make this show a success. Each person has to do his or her own job to make this work. Actors and actresses have to rehearse lines and movements (in this play, songs too!) or else the play just won’t work. The director has to be preparing for the play before the first rehearsal and has to lead the performers and crew. There are many different roles that have to be undertaken to make this work: stage managers, sound technicians, light crew, prop builders, promotional managers, costumes, etc… Without each person working to prepare then performing their task as needed then this would be a disaster.
As the show grows in its ability to perform, something else grows. The relationships between those working on the play grow. People come together from all walks of like with a common purpose. The result is not only a performed play, but a shared experience that will be a lasting thread to connect each of us no matter where life takes us from this point forward. When this is done right, the performance is great, and others like what they see and want to join in.
As Christians, Jesus is supposed to be our thread. We are his church. The church isn’t a place or a building or even a couple of services on Sundays and Wednesdays. The church is the people who have committed their life to the Messiah.
Through the years the church has morphed quite a bit from the way it was in the first century shortly after Jesus ascended into heaven. Churches today are frequently where people come to be spiritually fed. Usually this is the only spiritual feeding they get each week. Churches have encouraged its members to “bring a friend” in order for the preacher or some other minister to evangelize them taking that burden of responsibility off the lay-Christian. We often speak of “going to church”. Then, when we get there, they are highly ritualized ceremonies where a few people participate and the rest are spectators.
If we could bring some Christians here from the first century they wouldn’t recognize the church.
The church of the first century was quite different. First of all, they had no church buildings, so they WERE the church. In fact, they were so excited about it that they often met daily so they could encourage one another and share in that common thread of Jesus. The church had a common experience (coming to Jesus), and it had a common purpose. The purpose of the church was to take care of each other first, then evangelize the world all with a view of heaven.
The church at one time “had everything in common” and made sure that no other Jesus-followers had anything lacking. Their first priority was to take care of each other in love. They were fulfilling Jesus’ words when he said “by this they will know you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
They daily shared in that common experience. They also daily told others about the message of Jesus. This was made quite easier by their lifestyle. You see, they didn’t live anything like the world. The world saw their collective living. It saw their newfound love for others, and it wanted to be a part of that. The disciples lived their lives in such a way that led others to ask “what makes you different?” Then they had a great opportunity to start right there with the saving message of Jesus.
You are not called to allow the church to be your spiritual dinner table. You should be fed and feeding others each day as you commune with the body of Christ. How can we be a witness to the world if our lives show that we haven’t witnessed anything?
If we didn’t practice and work together for the play, then even if you did show up, the performance would be disastrous. Not only would you not come back, but you would talk to others about that as well. We are called to “Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.” (1 Peter 2:12)
So may you re-dedicate your service to God, His church and the world. May you be an agent of change to bring the church back to where it needs to be. And may God use you to show the world what love really is.
Come see me in the show, and if there’s anything I can do for you or pray with you about, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or at the office at 245-1611. God bless you!