Todays guest post comes from Gregg Farah. Gregg is a Pastor at Shelter Rock Church on Long Island, he writes, pursues the perfect pizza slice, cheers for the Mets, plays sports, and makes frequent visits to the doctor (see “I play sports”).
I know that you will enjoy this post! Make sure that you click on the image at the end to view the powerful 52 Week devotional that Gregg has written just for you.
“God moved out of Manhattan a long time ago…” was all I heard. I was listening intently to Gerald as I picked at my cheese Danish at an overpriced but chic coffee shop in Lower Manhattan when that phrase caught my attention. I stopped him mid-sentence, repeated his statement for accuracy, and then pushed my chair back to give my mind room to process what I heard.
Gerald paused, waiting for some kind of response, but when it was clear my brain was stuck in gear he picked up where I had interrupted. Still, I could not stop thinking of the implications of that statement. I’m one who actually believes this is a spiritually rich season in the life of New York City. While noontime confessions and unparalleled acts of benevolence are not commonplace, I hear a sufficient number of stories and see enough prints to reveal God’s hand at work in our greater metropolitan area.
But for others, God is nowhere to be found. I breathed in the smells of the coffee shop, held my drink with both hands, and leaning in interrupted Gerald once again. “Sorry to go backwards, but tell me more about your ‘God moved’ statement.”
Gerald obliged and shared the predictable tales of church neglect and abuse, hypocrisy and aloofness, and the painfully abhorrent charge of irrelevance. My years as a student minister brought back the stinging charge of youth ministry pioneer Jim Rayburn, “It’s a sin to bore a kid with the gospel.” The same holds true for adults.
For many, God and the church are synonymous. While not theologically accurate, it is a reasonable expectation. If God is in the transformation business, shouldn’t His children bear some resemblance to His love and care and compassion and creativity and unity? But just as plenty of children blaze a trail of independence far from the paved path parents laid before them, the same is true with those in the church. So what does the church do now? If God moved, is it possible to load a U-Haul and bring Him back? I think it is. And these are the two things the church must do: love God and love people.
Surprised by its simplicity? You’re not alone. When religious leaders challenged Jesus to state the most important law of God, He offered the same 2-for-1 special, sending the leaders away with more to think about then they hoped for. Jesus’ words sound simple and would look great on a T-shirt. But living them out is a high calling. Too many faith-filled people—of any religious affiliation—view God as a tattoo, something to wear, rather than a leader, someone to follow. But if God ever does move, I guarantee the moment a person chooses to follow His leadership and stands for justice or bends down to serve, a 17’ panel truck with God’s goods will be on the road headed back to Manhattan, or wherever you reside.
Want some evidence that God still has a Manhattan address? Here are three recent God-sightings:
- Michele gives up a week of her vacation to volunteer as a counselor at a preteen camp
- Jeremy organizes a trip to bring people to his home country to serve abandoned children
- Catherine listens with care and intensity as another woman shares her pain
These examples have God’s fingerprints all over them—and they come in varied shapes and sizes and commitment levels and ability. Yet they are all signs of a spiritually fertile climate that reminds the church of its priorities in the city and around the world.
Gerald’s “God moved” statement is not divinely inspired but it is real to him and challenges the church to reflect God’s love in plentiful and practical ways. And in case Gerald ever does speak for God, let’s hope God hires a moving company, because God’s got a huge sleeper-sofa.