Church steeples and lowly peoples

Published 10:59 pm Friday, April 20, 2012

By Chris Surber
Columnist

Every now and then I meet someone who acts as though I am doing them a tremendous favor to invite, allow, or otherwise welcome them to attend the church that I serve as pastor. It boggles my mind.

The primary message of the Church is that Jesus came to welcome sinners home to the God who created them. The central message of the Gospel is peace with God. Yet many do not believe themselves to be welcome to come to church. Why?

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At least a part of it may be that as our culture drifts further away from its common Christian tradition, people begin to misunderstand many of the symbols of the church.

I was driving in downtown Suffolk the other day, musing over the beauty of all of the church steeples that line the roads. I love church architecture. It is infused with meaning. That day, a thought occurred to me, though: “If a person doesn’t know that the purpose of a steeple is to point to God who is high and lifted up, that steeple might seem very intimidating.”

Someone told me a few years ago that they wanted to go to church but didn’t because they felt out of place with their “messed up,” imperfect life. Another person said that they don’t go church, even though they would like to know more about God because there are so many hypocrites in churches.

Friend, my response to both of those reasons not to attend church is the same. It seems like there are hypocrites in church because churches are filled with imperfect people just like you. What is the major difference between them and everybody else? They have simply looked upward in the direction that the steeple points.

Steeples point upward to the only source of perfection. Steeples are like giant fingers pointing to the dwelling place of the God we all gather to worship, to know; the place we gather for connection and healing.

Neither church steeples nor any other religious symbols connected with the way of Jesus are intended to keep anyone at bay. High heavenly church steeples point the way home for all lowly earthbound peoples.

Jesus said, “Come.” We are His representatives. If you sense God pulling on your heart to come, then by all means come!

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30 ESV)