I live in a small town. I have lived here all my life. I have watched this small town grow and change over the years in ways I never thought it would. I mean, we have a WAL-MART, for goodness sake. But living in a small town means everyone knew everyone growing up. And everyone knew what was going on. However, as our town has grown, it gets harder and harder to "keep up" with everything.
Driving home one day last week, I noticed that two guys were on a scaffold painting one of our city's water towers. Since I was sitting at a red light, I had some time to ponder. When do you know a water tower needs painting? They were only halfway done and for a minute, I could not tell which was the new color and which was the old color. It wasn't like the paint job on the tower was so badly degraded that it even warranted a new coat. Honestly, I wondered aloud to my husband about the merits of spending money on all that new paint and the salary for two people to spend several days painting that tower when it didn't really need it. You see, that's what you do in a small town. You form opinions about decisions the city council makes and wonder how it would be different if "John Smith" (insert any local citizen's name) were running things. HE sure wouldn't have spent all that money on painting the water tower. HE would have realized that painting the outside of the water tower was a waste of taxpayers' resources. Being on the downward slope of a pretty severe drought in our region, "John Smith" would have realized that changing the color on the outside of the tower would do NOTHING to change the deficient water level on the INSIDE of the tower.
Then it hit me. Ironically enough, this water tower was next door to my church and the parallel to the painted water tower was so clear. That is what we do with our brothers and sisters in Christ. We go to church on Sunday after getting all painted and pretty on the outside. We lift our hands in praise and put an arm around one another in fellowship. All the while, inside, we are drying up spiritually. We answer "I'm good. How about you?" when asked how things are going. I wonder how many people would answer, "Things are pretty rotten right now and I need your prayer" if they felt completely safe to say that. How many times do we sit through a service wishing that God would speak to us and wishing we would hear a song we like when what we are really there to do it worship Him?
How would things change in our fellowships if we went to church on Sundays wondering how many different ways we could pay honor to our Lord? What if we went challenging ourselves to pray a quick prayer for every person we hugged? What would really happen if we asked someone how they are REALLY doing and take the time to listen to what is going on in their life? I'll tell you what would happen! We would have CHURCH!
I am blessed enough to attend a fellowship that takes seriously the teaching of God's word and encouraging true fellowship between members. And let me tell you, it makes such a difference in my Christian walk. I feel my cup overflowing every time I enter that place. Praise God!
As far as the water tower goes, there may have been a legitimate reason for needing to paint it. I am not a water tower expert. I do know this: one reason it was painted was to shift my brain in gear and renew my resolve to take an interest in the people and purpose of my church. Through true fellowship and the solid teaching of God's word, we can truly worship our Lord!