A few years back, a warm couple from the Chicago suburbs retired to our area of Tennessee. One observation the wife made was that in the South there’s a church on every corner, and in the city of Chicago on every corner is a bar. She concluded one thing they both had in common and that was people long to be together. People are gregarious and seem to be drawn to fellowship. The street corners of the cities are filled with bars, to gather folks, music to entertain them, drinks to keep them and bartenders to counsel them in their vulnerable moments. The streets of the South have churches to gather people, music to sing along with, coffee to drink and pastors to pray with them in the vulnerable moments. The question is, how much are churches really different than the bars? We serve a triune Godhead, God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. The reason we are so relationally minded is because we are built and designed for relationship by a God in three persons that is in constant relationship within himself.
Paul instructs us to follow him as he follows Christ. In other words, let’s be relational, let’s be J-walkers. J-walkers are people who walk with Jesus and cultivate that relationship. The difference between churches and bars may be clouded and hard to differentiate at times, but the walk with Jesus is life-changing, speech-altering and power-infused. If the difference between the church and the bar isn’t Jesus, then, well, the South is full of bars as well. They just identify themselves with steeples.
I got the name J-walker from one of our small groups at church. That’s what they call themselves. When the walk with Jesus is more important than the service we provide, then the church begins to look different than anything in this world. Bars can gather you but they have no Holy Spirit to change you. Bartenders may hear you, but only Jesus can forgive you. Drinks may alter you for a moment, but God can change you for two lifetimes. So allow me to challenge your theology for a moment. If you’re not high on Jesus, it’s not because the drinks are watered down; maybe it’s because you’re not drinking enough. A troubled lady drew water for Jesus at a well in John chapter 4, and it changed her life forever. She started her journey at a well in Samaria taking the role of a bartender; she finished her day in the role of an evangelist to the people. What happened in between was the living water. Without Jesus, that well would have been just another lifeless bar; with Jesus that watering hole became the staging point for church worship and salvation. So let’s drink as much as we can of Jesus and try a little J-walking as well.
We are Christpoint Church. We’re on Liberty Square, in Sparta, and we’re open at 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. every Sunday morning. We’re real people, living real lives, serving a real God. Welcome home.
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