As you know, I am living in Bangalore at the moment.
I attend services at the Hope Chapel Church, which is about 15 minutes walking distance from where I live. The fact that it’s close by is very convenient. Prior to this, I tried out the All People’s Church (APC) and the Methodist Church. The APC is charismatically oriented where as the Methodist had a very traditional approach to them. They were both all right, but the fact that I needed a ride to get there was an issue. Thus, Hope Chapel worked out well.
Now, one shouldn’t pick a Church merely because it’s convenient for whatever reason. From the Biblically and theological standpoint, it must measure up to what the Lord would want His Church to be!
The preaching at Hope Chapel is good, the Pastor seems like a godly leader who understands what it means to be a Pastor and the worship service has a bit of both tradition as well as contemporary touch to it.
The first 2 weeks I was at Hope Chapel, the only person I spoke to, was the Pastor. And that too, only because I went up to him to introduce myself. What I have noticed is that people here (in Bangalore, perhaps in India) are not too keen to say hello to the stranger in their midst. It happened to me at APC, the Methodist Church and even at Hope Chapel.
It was disheartening and saddening because a) I felt a bit left out and unwelcome b) these believers are missing the point of what it means to be in Christ and part of the body of Christ! Comfort zones or “that’s the way I am” or “I am shy” or “let some one else speak to the new person” or “I don’t care” – these are not the hallmarks of a Christian. Why in the world should we entertain it, when our Lord set a much greater example for us?
There is a word for it. Hypocrisy. Yeah, that’s what we are. Hypocrites.
It’s not enough that we attend Church on Sundays (or Fridays) and sing a few hymns or worship songs, give our tithes, hear the message and then walk away. Christians are meant to forge deep relationships with the Lord and with each other! Iron sharpens Iron. Remember?
I felt sad because no one said hello to me or made me feel welcome at Hope Chapel. I shared my observation with the Pastor. I am an extrovert, but I purposely did not approach anyone.
That changed 2 days ago. After the 2nd service on Sunday, January 31st, Elisha, a brother who normally attends the 1st service, came up to me and greeted me and we had a great conversation! 🙂 I was so excited and shared with him how I was waiting to see who would be the first to greet me. Elisha was also just like me in that he was from a Hindu background as well. He introduced me to his wife Diana. He also introduced me to another brother, formerly a Brahmin, who was now serving the Lord full time. Needless to say, it was such an encouragement to speak to all of them.
So, to all my fellow brothers and sisters out there. Please keep an eye out for the stranger in your midst. You never know who he or she may be. What if it’s the Lord in disguise? What would He say to you when you neglect Him because of some lame excuse you have?
Despite no one saying hello to me or being loving towards me, I kept coming back because I knew that the Lord would want me to do that. But, what if it was an unbeliever who was coming to Church for the first time? Imagine if no one bothered to share the love of Christ with that person? Would they come back? Would we have been a faithful witness? Would the Lord have been pleased with our conduct?
Dear brothers and sisters,
- Please don’t be hypocrites.
- Please don’t get comfortable with your clique and forget everyone else.
- Please don’t just greet only those who you know or approach those who are close to you and disregard the strangers.
Eagerly share the joy of the Lord and His love that is in you, with all you come across (in the Church and everywhere), that they may see your joy and want it, want Him, for themselves! May the Lord Jesus, grant us the grace, the faith, the love, to do this in our daily lives!
God bless you all.