One interesting aspect about people watching is observing how Christians present themselves to others.

Several of the churchgoers in my area look permanently miserable, angry even. They are eager to talk about their problems and illnesses. Their conversations revolve around them. Rarely have I heard from them a friendly hello or a sincere ‘How are you?’ Smiles are nowhere to be seen.

They do not seem to have purpose.

They seem devoid of hope.

One wonders about their faith.

If I were not a believer, they would not be the ones bringing me to Christ Jesus, that’s for sure.

‘Church is a hospital for the sick,’ they say.

Yes, the spiritually sick, so they can be saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8). Churches and related committees — meant to serve the congregation — should not overly indulge or encourage personal psychodrama and moaning.* If they do, something is wrong somewhere.

Navel gazing denies the lordship of Christ. It prevents loving one’s neighbour. It’s spiritual darkness.

If such ‘Christians’ think they are evangelising, they’re giving a poor example to everyone they encounter.

A number of these people have spouses and children who shy away from attending church. I’m not surprised, based on what they experience at home. It’s no wonder secularists are winning the battle for hearts and minds.

Self-absorbed pewsitters would do well to pray honestly for our Lord to show them purpose with regard to others, starting with their own families. Along with that should be a private study of the Bible with the aid of a sound commentary. Too many programmes, like Alpha, encourage a non-judgemental ‘Scripture is what I think it says’ outlook, which can often hinder faith.

Navel gazers should focus on divine grace which would allow them to progressively leave their self-preoccupation behind and become a more responsible spouse, parent and church member. Those in my area should also give thanks for their God-given blessings: a comfortable house, good neighbourhood, patient family members and much more. Millions in Britain would love to be in their shoes.

It’s hard to know whether such self-obsession results from a lack of faith, a surfeit of pride or both. Whatever it is, it isn’t good or helpful for these people — or others.

The best ambassador for Christ I can think of lives in our street. She is an elderly lady who suffers from a debilitating illness. Sometimes she needs a zimmerframe (‘walker’, for my American readers). Often, a friend has to accompany her to church. However, she stops to talk to her neighbours and actually converses with them. She’s perpetually cheerful. I’ve never heard her discuss her ailment, even though she’s probably in chronic pain. She shows interest in other people and things. She and I had a lengthy conversation about the ornamentals in our front garden one day.

She is a delightful woman and a good Christian.

Would that more emulated her fine example.

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*  I have seen it first hand, and it’s put me off serving on church committees for good.

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