“Hearken now unto my voice, I will give thee counsel, and God shall be with thee: Be thou for the people to God-ward, that thou mayest bring the causes unto God:”
I was visiting one of the young girls from our church in the hospital, and her parents made a strange statement as they were holding her after surgery. They said, “Church is here.” The mother then looked up to me and told me that their daughter called me “church.”
To this young girl, I was the representation of church. Yes, I am her pastor, but I am the one who is influencing that young mind about what church is supposed to be. When I was driving back to the office from this visit, it hit me about the realization of how important it is for me to live a right life so that my life never puts a sour taste of church in her mind.
To some extent, this is what Moses’ father-in-law was saying to Moses. He said, “Be thou for the people to God-ward…” In other words, Moses was the picture of what God should be to these people. I know that the Pharisee will say that people are to keep their eyes on God, but the fact that most people won’t should have caused Moses to live his life in such a manner that pointed them to God so that they had a right image of God in their minds.
Whether or not you like it, you are “church” to someone. You are “church” to those who live around you in the neighborhood. You are “church” to those with whom you work. You are “church” to those with whom you go to school. You are “church” to those you teach in your Sunday school class. You are “church” to those you bring to church on the bus. You are “church” to those with whom you do activities in business. Let me give you a few cautions about this truth.
First, you had better live your life in such a manner that you don’t place a bad mark in their minds about church. Every word you say and every action you perform makes an impact on the lives of others. While I was visiting someone in prison, I invited a prison guard to church, but I was informed that he would probably not come because his “preacher” brother frequented the casinos. How you live your life does matter.
Second, you had better be careful what you say about those who represent “church” to your children. When parents gossip about the one whom their children picture as “church,” they are tearing down the picture of church in their child’s mind, and they will one day regret those negative conversations when their children stop going to church. You may not always agree with those who are spiritual leaders, but your words will either disparage or build up church in the minds of your children.
Third, be careful about allowing the humanity of the life of someone who was “church” in your mind to become your excuse to stop serving God. The one who was “church” in your mind was human, and you must remember that at best they were still sinners. It is a poor excuse to use the fall of a sinful human instrument, who was a spiritual leader, as your excuse to live a worldly life. The humanity of a spiritual leader does not give you an excuse to live a worldly life.
My friend, what picture are you painting for those who call you “church?” Always remember that someone is watching you, and it imperative that you live your life to paint a picture for them that points them God-ward and not earth-ward.