Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Bahamian Blogging # 11: Road Work

When we were church hopping on our recent trip to the Bahamas, one of the churches to which we hopped was the First Baptist Church of Freeport. As many churches do these days, they have a three-year theme.

I've seen a fair number of church themes that I thought were pretty iffy, so I wasn't optimistic. If the church is the bride of Christ (and it is) then the theme should have something to do with Jesus. Preferably, it would come from something Jesus said, and not some popular author's book. The Bahamians, however, have done a marvelous job of choosing. Their theme is "Transforming the Jericho Road", and they have the Good Samaritan in mind. If you remember the story, you know that Jesus used it to answer the question, "Who is my neighbor?"  

The road from Jerusalem to Jericho was filled with robbers and extremely dangerous. No one wanted to go that way, and the route was undertaken with great caution. A man made the trip, was attacked by mugger-robbers, stripped naked, beaten to a pulp, and left for dead. They took all his money, too. First a priest and then a Levite passed him on the road. They didn't want to get involved, so they crossed by on the other side of the street. 

Finally, a hated Samaritan came by. He took one look at that jumble of crushed humanity and his heart broke. He scooped the battered man up, treated his wounds, and carried the man to an inn where he could be cared for until he was strong enough to go his way.  

Jesus wanted us to understand that the Samaritan treated the stranger the way He wants us to treat people. The Samaritan did what needed to be done at his own expense, no questions asked, no expectation of repayment. "You go and do likewise," Jesus said. 

First Baptist Church of Freeport has a bold vision. They have decided to tackle the problem of the (figurative) Jericho Road. They plan "to banish fear, to offer hope, to show compassion, to love our neighbors as ourselves, to keep God at center, and to build a beloved community." These visionaries hope to accomplish this in three short years. Now THAT is a theme! THAT is a church that is doing what Jesus wanted. He said, "Do likewise," and they are. 

If you haven't had a Jericho road experience where, when you least expected it, circumstances conspired to knock you down and leave you battered and ruined, you probably will. The great difficulty with Jericho Road experiences is that we cannot rescue ourselves there. It takes someone willing to be the hands and feet of Christ to help us. It takes someone like the members of The First Baptist Church of Freeport. 

I've thought about that church many times since I visited there, and I've wished I worshiped and served with them every week. The amazing thing is that, because we are all part of the Church, the bride of Christ, I am a part of them, and they are a part of me. Isn't that beautiful?  Just so you know, my church is doing road work on the Jericho Roads of life and actively watching for those crushed on the side of the road. We could use some help. Wouldn't you like to come along?