One night a friend and I went into the bar to get some wings to go. We were watching movies at the office and didn’t want the pizza the critters were eating. As we bellied up to the bar and waited on our order, we glanced around the smoky bar.
I said, “can you imagine what someone from our church might think if they happened to see us here at the bar?” “But look at the people, they don’t have smiles on their faces, they appear to be lonely and just hanging out.”
Seemingly, then the Spirit said, “This is where the church should ‘hang out’”. Why hang out in sterile church buildings when the world is desperately hanging out in other places. At nearly that same moment, I sensed the Spirit reminding me that I was the church, or part of it, and where ever I hung out, the church was open for business.
I can remember people quoting the verse “where ever two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.” (Matthew 18:20) But it seemed like God put that verse in perspective that night. After Acts 2, the verse was even simplified, “where ever one or more are gathered, I am in their midst!”
You see in Acts 2 (Pentecost) the fulfillment of the mystery of the gospel occurred. (Colossians 1:27) The mystery was the Messiah would rule a kingdom within the lives of people. The Spirit of the Living God would take residence in the soul and spirit of people. No longer would a priest have to mediate an offering on people’s behalf, because the Great High Priest, Jesus, made the ultimate and final sacrifice. The world changed.
It was becoming clear in that smoky bar that night. The church should be where the Spirit leads. Amazing the Spirit led Jesus during his physical ministry to a lot of lonely places and people and undoubtedly many religious people were shocked that Jesus would be hanging out with the likes of a tax collector, prostitute, Samaritan or who knows what other lonely people He might have dared to hang with.
But when you come to think about it; isn’t it possible that the Holy Spirit will lead you in places that might be lonely? Isn’t it possible He will ask you to do things, help people or respond to situations that are not popular? Isn’t it possible that Jesus’ ministry on earth was a pretty lonely time for Him. I mean the 12 closest to Him had very little understanding about what He was about. They wanted power, position, sleep, food and number of other things that had little to do with the reality in which Jesus was living.
But the good news is that even if God calls you into a setting that might be a bit lonely, you will never be alone. Since the Gospel changed the essence of Matthew 18:20 by the magnitude of one, where ever you go, what ever you experience, the Spirit of the God that raised Jesus from the dead is there with you. He is your Comforter, Wisdom, Hope and a laundry list of other amazing adjectives. But thanks to God, you will never be alone again. And you can go where ever He leads you; even if it is a smoky bar for chicken wings! KYEOJ!