JOHN PEARRELL: Those who consider themselves the body of Christ need to act more like it

The Church is an interesting thing. Normally when we think of church we think of a place, and sadly when we think of church, our impressions of it are not that good.

I grew up in the Church, but by time I was 18, my parents had been so hurt by some people in the church, that they stopped going to church all together. They were Christ-followers but not much fans of the local church.

In his autobiography, Mahatma Gandhi wrote that during his student days he read the Gospels seriously and considered converting to Christianity. He believed that in Jesus he could find the solution to the caste system that was dividing the people of India.

So one Sunday he decided to attend services at a nearby church and talk to the minister about becoming a Christian. When he entered the sanctuary, however, the usher refused to give him a seat and suggested that he go worship with his own people. Gandhi left the church and never returned, "If Christians have caste differences also," he said, "I might as well remain a Hindu."

That usher's prejudice not only betrayed Jesus but also turned a person away from trusting Him as Savior.

Later, when Gandhi kicked the Christian Missionaries out of India, he was asked, "Mr. Gandhi, what is it you have against Christ?" He said, "(I don't have anything against Christ) I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike Christ!"

Gandhi's experience kind of makes you mad doesn't it? Guess what: we haven't changed much. If you go with the latest Gallup poll, the reason that 82.3 percent of the people are not involved in any church today is not because they are not interested in what God may have to say to them. It's because they are not interested in us.

Face it, by and large, the church is broken today, and no one wants a product that is already broken. How many of you would go to a store looking for a television, let's say, and the salesman says, "I have a deal for you! Normally this set is $1,230, but today, because the screen is broken beyond repair, I'm going to let you have it for only $615; that's half off. You won't find a better deal than that!" I may be wrong, but I don't think you would purchase that television.

When people look at the church today, often they see a product that is broken beyond repair. That's not their fault; it's ours. We are broken.

Jesus said, "By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another" (John 13:35, NIV84).

If, however, we were to rewrite that verse today in a way more descriptive of what people actually see, I'm afraid it would read like this, "By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you fight one another." Because that is what the world often sees. The reason that see it that way is because that is what we are doing.

Excuse me, those of you who are not Christ-followers, but this next statement is only for those of us who claim to be Christ-followers: Shame on us.

We who are supposed to be "the body of Christ" need to start acting like the body of Christ. When Christ was on this Earth, sinners and tax collectors we are told loved Him; the godly, righteous people not so much. That's interesting. The most holy, righteous person who ever lived was loved by people who were nothing like Him. They loved Him and He loved them.

How far we have fallen from this as a group who claim to be His followers today. We need to recapture the heart of our Lord and we need to live in love.

How sad that so many professed believers today seem to want mercy only for themselves and those like them, but condemnation and justice for those we deem as unworthy. Such an attitude is anything but Christian.

Dr. John Pearrell is pastor of Gateway Community Church in Covington. For more information, visit the Gateway website at www.gatewaycommunity.org.