What a great concept. One store that has everything you need and millions of things you don’t need. The idea of one stop shopping has taken our culture by storm. Now there are several stores that compete for your one stop shopping for anything from groceries to clothing to tires. We all go. Some even enjoy the shopping. I look at it more like an experiment of human behavior.
It is no secret that going out shopping anywhere will introduce you to all kinds of people. Some are funny. Some are sad. Some are just a little bit strange. But they all gather together at the one place to find all of their shopping treasures – Wal-Mart.
From the outside, it seems that the people of Wal-Mart get along nicely. You may run into friends on the cracker aisle. You may see someone to avoid on the pickle aisle so you walk a little faster to the eggs than you normally would. However, for the most part people get along, but not always.
I have seen parents chasing children by the toys. I have seen lines of frustrated gift receivers waiting to exchange Christmas presents. Even some of the seemingly nicest people push and shove on Black Friday for that one special video game or discounted TV. But we all go back the next week like nothing has happened.
Do you see a similar pattern emerging from Wal-Mart and your church? Some are happy. Some are sad. Some are a little strange. But we all gather in one place to meet with God. We are people that are broken, hurt, confused and full of sin, all seeking help from God. Church is not the perfect place, but it is the gathering place for sinners to find the truth from God. I love the church and I have to admit sometimes I see just a hint of Wal-Mart as we gather.
From time to time people will get discouraged with their church and seek another church. Some look for new music or shorter sermons. Sometimes, even pastors want to have a new church with different people. While looking for that new and different church where everything is better just remember – they all go to the same Wal-Mart. People are just people and they can’t help it. We are sinners in a sinful world surrounded by sinners who do sinful things. Our minds want to turn to sinful thoughts and our bodies want to follow.
Church is the one place that should understand this struggle. Christians are forgiven of sins by faith in Jesus Christ. Christians are changed by the power of the Holy Spirit that moves in our lives at salvation. However, living the Christ life at church or at Wal-Mart is a work in progress. Theologians call this sanctification. The apostle Paul calls it impossible. We can’t live His perfect life. He must live it through us. “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Gal 2:20 ESV)
The next time you see a fellow Christian struggle with the flesh and sin, pray for him or her. Try to encourage them with the love of God and Scripture. Oh, and remember that you are just like them – a work in progress – for we all go to the same Wal-Mart.