Alexis BaptistIts a beautiful building, sitting there sheltered and shaded among the big Oaks. They frame the entrance way, a down home welcome. Still, it is only a building they guard.
It is only a building, made of brick and mortar. Built just a ways off the main route between Stanley and Lincolnton North Carolina. There are two ways in to the parking area. One off the main road and one that was once a dirt road now paved that connects the parking area to yet another roadway.
It is a building, well maintained and cared for. Everything has a place, and there are places for everything. The staff takes their responsibilities seriously. It is requested that there be no food or drinks in the sanctuary, and anyone in the classrooms to make sure they clean up behind themselves should they have food in the room.
The pews are comfortable, and the carpeting a soothing shade. The stained glass windows creating the perfect moments of reverence and color.
It is still, just a building.
There are classrooms for every age. The ages and their needs are taken into consideration as to where their classrooms are. Some of the members have problems with stairs, others need windows, most just need somewhere to sit and a good teacher to lead them.
The grounds are well kept, no fallen limbs or other debris litter the area. Hand rails are everywhere that they may be needed to prevent falls. Still, it is only a building.
Even as this building has special extra buildings around it. The hut directly behind it, another space for classes or small events. The family life center up on the hill where the youth meet as well as special events are held.
Still...... this is not the church.
The church, is the members, the people, young, not quite as young and no longer young who gather there.
The church, are those who open their heart to those in need. Who give what they can or seek out what is needed if they don't have it. They take care of others, they build or clean, clothe, or feed those in need. Who go out on missions across town, across the state, across the country or across the world. They build homes, clean yards or dig potatoes.
The church, are those who follow their faith, follow the teaching, follow their heart to do what faith instructs. To live in the right manner, to speak, to listen, to love as Jesus instructed. As Jesus did.
The church are those who love, but do not judge. Knowing that loving the sinner is not accepting the sin. Knowing, that others will not listen to one who is too busy casting judgement and hate, instead of acting in compassion and love.
The church, are those who live, act, speak in faith every day. Who are not afraid to speak of their belief, without arrogance but in humility. They know where they were, they know how far they have come, they know Whose grace it is that has saved and forgiven them. They know, that they still struggle and stumble, and yet they know they are forgiven, when they ask and turn away from the sins they have committed.
The church, is not a building. A building, no matter how nice and well maintained, cannot bring one to salvation and a relationship with the Lord. A building is just that, a building. It is the people, the heart, the hope, the faith and the love they share. Those are the church.
Those are the church, that I have found, within the walls of a building. Those are the church who have accepted me, befriended me, taken care of me and my family and who have loved me, for who I am.