I seldom watch television, usually only having time for watching an occasional sports event. Last Sunday, however, I had a chance to watch the show Extreme Makeover. This shows features a makeover team as they choose one family and rebuild their ill-equipped, often run-down home. On this particular show, the team chose a woman from Mississippi with three children who had a terrible home with no running water. The family was sent on vacation and the team went to work to renovate their home in one week. The house was so bad that they bulldozed it and started over.
When the family came back, they had beautiful new home that the show built and paid off for them. There was a new car, the latest appliances and scholarships for her three children. Then they gave the woman a fully-stocked home business shop. During the show, the team brought in CeCe Winans to do a benefit concert in a local church to give the woman some money. As the woman and her children walked through their new home, she kept saying, "Thank You, Lord! Thank You, Jesus!" I was moved as I watched.
But I was wondering how the woman's church could allow her to live in those conditions all those years? Why did it take a group of non-church people to come in and help her? How could the church have a nice building when one of their members lived in squalor. Throughout the show, everyone kept telling us what a good woman she was. Yet I kept wondering why the church could not have done some of what that show did. Why are we afraid at times to bless other people beyond their wildest dreams? Why can't people walk away from the Church feeling like I did when I finished watching that show?
Isn't that what the church is about? Aren't we to take care of our own and dispense grace? Why did a secular show figure out how to bless someone when the church often can't figure it out? Why do we spend millions on pizza for our youth meetings, multi-millions on air conditioning and coffee shops in the church building, but we can't seem to help people. I don't get it.
It reminded of the time that I bought some dress shirts at a Nordstrom Department Store in San Francisco and proceeded to lose them in the local mall. When I went back to Nordstrom, they gave me four new shirts free of charge! I wrote an article called "A Shirt Tale" describing the incident and likening it to the mission of the Church: to restore what's been stolen and lost in people's lives without assigning blame or guilt.
I doubt if I'll watch Extreme Makeover for the rest of the year, but I won't soon forget the episode I saw. I want to be a part of an organization that is committed to extreme makeovers too, and that organization should and must be the Church of Jesus Christ. We need to stop playing church and become the Church. I only hope the world doesn't do all the good deeds there are to do before we wake up to our mission.