Devotional Thoughts: What makes church different?

Really, what makes church different?

We sing songs.

I suppose if one when to go to one of these arty coffee shops where people sing thoughtful songs they have written it might seem similar. Or how about karaoke? Isn't that fun singing?

We hear sermons.

I suppose people go to public lectures to hear people expound on some subject matter of importance or share their life experiences. I bet self-help book authors get big audiences at book tours.

We contemplate.

I suppose with the rise of yoga and new age meditation, people do something similar.

Really, what makes church different?

When we gather at together as a church (not necessarily a place but rather a community of people), we do the three things mentioned above. And it is supposed to be different.

Certainly, the content is different: Christians sing to, learn about and contemplate about Jesus.

And what does Jesus say is the most important thing?

Can't help but think about Jesus in his final thoughts he shared with his disciples before going to the cross. For instance, John 15:12-17:

My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit - fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. This is my command: Love each other.

In youth group planning meeting there was a discussion about how youth today feel abandoned. And in the broader society there seems to be a rough edge to how people interact with each other.

Indeed, love would mark Christians as different.

People often think of the Apostle Paul as a grumpy old hard nosed guy. He probably had some of that. But what else did he write?

I Corinthians 13:2 ... if I have not love, I am nothing ...

Lord, help me to be lost in your love. To swim in it. To drink deeply from the wonder of it. I'm an empty vessel. I'm a leaky vessel. God, I have nothing in of myself to give to others. So, Jesus, help me draw near to you. Fill me with the Holy Spirit so that I may go forth into the world and be your hands and feet to a lost and dying world. Amen.