Keith Wishum: Somebody important lives there
Tens of thousands visit every year. Tourists numbering more than 100 times the resident population flock to the rural town. They come for a variety of reasons, but, for most, there is one common attraction. The crowds come to tiny Plains, Georgia, primarily because it is the home of Jimmy Carter.
Some come because they admire the former president. If not his politics, they at least respect his impressive rise to world prominence. Others come to be near fame and glory. Something about being near a famous person, perhaps shaking his hand seems to make the visitor seem a bit more important himself. And some come solely out of curiosity. They just want to see what all the hubbub is about in this tiny town.
Whatever the reason, people are drawn to the homes of famous and powerful people. Which is why we should be so strongly attracted to the church. It is where God himself lives!
Pretty impressive resident, huh? But that’s what the Bible says. To the church Paul wrote, “And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit” (Ephesians 2:12).
We should be drawn in droves to God’s church because of admiration. He lives there, and there is no one greater. Becoming president is an amazing accomplishment, but being Creator far surpasses it.
We should be drawn to God’s church because when we “shake hands” with God, his glory rubs off on us. Because “Christ is in you, therefore you can look forward to sharing in God’s glory” (Colossians 1:27, The Message). Nothing else we might accomplish in life can compare to that achievement.
And, hopefully, some will be drawn to the church out of curiosity. But that will happen only when those in the church do something noteworthy to attract attention. People quickly join an excited crowd, but few visit a cemetery.
A final important point is that God’s house is the church collectively. Christianity is never a totally individual matter. Jesus intended to “build my church” — an ecclesia, a term for a town meeting, a gathering of the community (Matthew 16:18). It is “where two or three come together in my name,” that Jesus promises to be (Matthew 18:20).
Thousands are drawn to Plains because of a president. All of us should be drawn to church because of the Christ who lives there.
Keith Wishum is minister, Williams Road Church, Americus.