Scripture: John 5:1-13
We live in an age characterized by the prefix “post.” We live in a post-modern, post-racial, and the most recent, post-truth age where the truth no longer matters and alternative facts have taken its place.
The prefix “post” invaded our culture and our faith. We live in a post-religious age – post-Christian, post-evangelical, post-denominational and post-religious.
All of these phrases describe a culture, according to the Barna Group (the evangelical Christian polling firm) that appears to be moving away from conventional Christianity. The culture seems to say that “Christianity and church [as we practice them] no longer matters,” “We’ve been there and done that.”
Jon Tyson, author of “Sacred Roots: Why Church Still Matters,” wrote that 1/3 of Americans, feel that going to church is still important. Another third feel that going to church is not important at all and the other third fall somewhere in between.
Regarding Millennials (persons born between 1980-2000) and their attitudes, Tyson noted that 59% who grew up in church have dropped out of church, 35% don’t attend church because of the moral failures of the church leaders, 31% don’t go to church because church is boring and 20% don’t go to church because they feel that God is missing from the church.
In this post-religious age, we can refer to John 5 where he tells his community about a church that matters. Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem for the feast of the Jews (v. 1). There was a pool by the Sheep Gate (v. 2) where sick folks were waiting for the angel to trouble the waters (v. 3ff). Whoever stepped in the waters first would be made well of their disease (v. 4).
One man had an infirmity for 38 years (v. 5). When Jesus saw him, He asked if he wanted to be made well (v. 6). The man said that he had nobody to put him in the water and somebody always stepped in front of him [and blocked his blessing]. Jesus told him to rise, take up his bed and walk, and immediately the man was made well and took up his bed and walked (v. 8ff).
This section of scripture reveals that church matters when it is a place where people can feel close to God. This pool was a place where people felt close to God and found sanctuary from a mean and unfriendly world. It was a place where they gathered and nobody judged them, looked down upon them or turned them away because of their infirmities. In that community of sick people, they felt close to God.
Church matters when it is a place where people can see the move of God. At certain times, an angel of God troubled the waters and whoever got in first was made well (v. 4). Every now and then, somebody ought to see a move of God in the church. Every now and then, somebody ought to get healed or delivered or saved or happy.
And then, church matters when it is a place where people learn about God and His power over sickness and that their healing, wellness and wholeness are more important than the Sabbath religious ritual/observance.
Church matters because it is the institution for which Jesus made an endless propitiation for Paul told the saints in Ephesians 5:25 that Christ loved the church and gave Himself for the church.
Church matters because it is the institution for which Jesus made an eternal purification that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word (v. 26). Church matters because it is the institution that Christ made an everlasting promise to present it glorious, and holy, without spot, or wrinkle, or blemish (v. 27). Church matters because it is the institution for which Jesus is coming back for.
The Rev. Dr. Kelvin T. Calloway, Sr., is the pastor of Bethel AME Church, 7900 C. Western Ave., in Los Angeles.