1 Corinthians 1:17-18 (KJV) For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.  For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.
Several times a week I get calls or visits from people who want our Church to pay their electric bill. We can’t do that. I understand that people get in a bad way, but we just cannot afford to pay every person’s electric bill. If it got out we were paying electric bills, every person of questionable nature would beat a pathway to our door to pay their bills. We contribute monthly to a local para-church ministry called “The Family Support Center”. The FSC helps people pay their light bills, and keeps a database of who has been helped. They have a great system in place to help the genuine needy, but weed out the grifters. It’s a great ministry that we as a Church will always support.
I believe local churches should help those in need who are truly in need. There are some people who approach the local church because it is easier to beg than it is to work. The Apostle said:
2 Thessalonians 3:10 (ESV) For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.
Work is ordained of God. Though Adam was placed in a perfect garden called Eden, God commanded him to “work and to keep the Garden” (Genesis 2:15).
God does not bless slothfulness.
My most recent encounter was a lady who came to our Church two weeks ago. She said she was hungry, and needed money for gas for her car. We can do that. As a Church we maintain a pantry for the hungry, and we often make “Care Bags” that we pass out to homeless people in need of sustenance. I told the lady:
We have Church services tonight.
Come listen to the message, then you’ll be given access to our pantry.
We’ll even put some gas in your car.
Some might question why I as Pastor would require people to come to Church. It is because I believe the Church’s primary responsibility is to make disciples, to teach the Gospel and to teach them to “observe all things that Jesus has commanded” (Matthew 28:20). We will not send you away hungry, but we want you to hear of Jesus.
That night this precious soul came back with two other ladies. Wonderful! They sat through the services, heard the Gospel, and afterwards were given access to the pantry, receiving 4 bags of food. I went with them to the local gas station and pumped $30.00 of gas into their car. They departed after I prayed with them. “We’ll be back this Sunday” the oldest woman promised. Praise God!
Two weeks passed. We did not see these ladies. Then Wednesday the head of the group came to my office.
“I need you to pay my electric bill”
I explained that we didn’t do that. I explained that we sent money to the FSC to aid people with their utilities. This lady and her friends knew about the FSC, and had abused that ministry to where they were no longer welcome. Then she dropped a bombshell.
I’ll join your church if you’ll pay my electric bill.
My heart broke, for her heart was hardened to Christ. So many today are the same way. People come by our Church, call, and want to do interviews with the Pastor. They want to “test drive” the Church to see if it is what they need.
Do you have a certain level of child care?
How are the facilities?
Do you have certain programs that we’d like to enjoy?
Will I be entertained during the worship hour?
Do you feed people at mid-week service?
Can we have coffee and doughnuts with our Jesus fix?
Let me say this with all the love I can muster: You may “join a church” but that doesn’t save your soul. Falling in love with Christ saves your soul. Following Jesus in faith saves your soul. A “Church” is a group of people who come together with the common goal of worshipping God and following Jesus. The Church belongs to Christ. It may be divided into “denominations” but these are human divisions. Jesus said:
Matthew 16:18 (NKJV) … on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.
The Church is not an electric company.
It is not a movie theater.
It is not a buffet.
The Church is not an entertainment center.
It is not an arm of Alcoholics Anonymous, though I admire that ministry.
The Church is not a grief support center.
The Church proper belongs to Jesus, for Jesus, and is about Jesus. Lost souls do not understand this, and sadly, many professing Christians seem to have forgotten it. The Church exists because of Christ, and those who are it’s members are broken creatures who crawled to Jesus for healing.
The Church is those who heard the message of the Gospel and said “Yes” to Christ.
Beloved, the most important possession you have is your soul. Christ did not come to this earth to pay your electric bill. Christ came to this earth to die for your sins. Christ came so that you – believing on Him – can have eternal life. We are all broken in the eyes of God. We all fall short. But the Scripture says that while we were yet sinners, God the Father sent Christ to die for us (Romans 5:8). The Church exists to be the lighthouse of God’s salvation message. The Church will help. But the primary calling of the Church is to share the Gospel, to preach Christ crucified, to offer the salvation that is only available through Him. God help us as a nation if the Church does not begin to do as it should, promoting Christ and displaying the love of God.
We are not the electric company. But we’ve got the power!
We love Jesus!