During the fall and winter holidays, there was an increase in the number of people meeting at diverse places, such as a coffee shop, book shop, fast food place, or small restaurant to fellowship with friends, people of similar faith, or study and read. Yet, for some people, it was not enough to have these places available. These people wanted something more exclusive to their faith. Such has been the case of some of the people with whom I have encountered through my work.
It grieves me to hear "Christians" say "I wish there were more Christian places to" ... It seems to me that many of them have forgotten that it does not matter the type of place a "Christian" meets in, but it is the "treasure of the heart" of both the workers and customers that makes that place a "Christian" place to meet in. There are many places of business that already apply this simple principal from God's Word, and most are doing well in their place of business.
Teachings of Jesus
In the teachings of Jesus, He often used metaphors to refer to the state of both the heart and mind of men, women, and children. One of those metaphors was the "treasure of the heart" (Luke 6: 43-45), that which is expressed by a person through both thoughts and behavior as a reflection of the kind of conviction and values that they hold within their heart. In addition, these expressions can be classified as good or evil and they help to define a person as "Christian" as well as the environment in which they are present.
Another metaphor that was used by Jesus was the "light". In fact, He referred to Himself as the "light of the world" and those who were to be His followers or "Christians" were to be that as well. (John 8: 12 ; Matthew 5: 14-16). How is this seen by the world? Simple, there is something different, something that distinguishes you as a "Christian" from everyone else in the world. It is the Holy Spirit abiding in you that allows you to be the "light of the world".
The teachings of Jesus and the Apostles show us that we were not intended to go into the world with our faith alone. Their teachings show us that we are called to serve and encourage one another in proportion to our spiritual gifts, with a whole heart, and under the empowerment of the Holy Spirit. Their is a dependency of a living organism, known as the church, but also a relationship of brothers and sisters through Christ Jesus, and being adopted by God the Father to the degree of being called "a child of God".
Jesus said, “Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.” (Matthew 18: 19-20). Although these scriptures address the matter of prayer and believers being in agreement for what they are asking from God, it establishes a precedence to the impact believers have in heaven as well as on earth when they address a matter together and in agreement.
The report of Luke the Apostle states that, "Then Barnabas departed for Tarsus to seek Saul. And when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. So it was that for a whole year they assembled with the church and taught a great many people. And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch." (Acts 11:25-26). These scriptures address many things: they were "assembled" (gathered) together, they were "with the church" (Body of Christ ... other believers), they "taught" people.
Down To The Point
This selection can be filled with scripture after scripture passage pointing to the argument that it takes a "Christian" or a set thereof, to make a place a "Christian" place. However, it is not until people come to remember or realize that when Christ Jesus resides within a "Christian", it is their entity that should diminish and that of Christ Jesus that arises to the top. As I have shared it before, "people need to see less of me and more of Christ Jesus through me." No matter what you name a shop or place of gathering, if Christ Jesus is not within the people who work or visit there, it will not be a "Christian" place.
What our cities and towns need are less named "Christian" places and more people shining that light of Christ Jesus at ordinary places. They need to let His light shine when they are eating a snack during their break-time. They need to shine the light when they bow down an ear to listen to a co-worker's hardship challenges. They need to let His light shine when the car of a customer has failed to start; even if it means bringing out the old toolbox and getting a little dirty.
Dear God, It is my heart's desire that many people would wake-up and search for Christ Jesus as oppose to "Christian" places. It is my heart's desire that churches begin to work once again to teach "Christians" how to be "the light of world" where ever they are. They need to stop chasing flickers of lights and start being lighthouse torches of light. Amen
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R. A. Gómez