I think the church will always be misunderstood, but I also don’t necessarily think that misunderstanding is something that needs to be corrected. Don’t get me wrong, there are things that should be corrected, but there will always be some things about the church that is foreign to this world. It will always be misunderstood. That being said, our focus should not be a clarification of doctrine to this world or an explanation of how a Christian ought to live. Those things will continue to be strange. With this in mind, I think the question, “What can churches do to become a better reflection of Christianity?” is well intentioned but wrong-headed. A better question might be, “What can churches do to become a better reflection of Christ?” There is a difference. Whereas Christianity is a way of life, a transformation, a set of doctrines, the proper use of faith, a set of beliefs, and so on; Christ is a person who actually did a few things. His works are recorded in the Bible. So, what sort of things did he do? What did he say for us to do?
I think these questions, and the question of what the church ought to be doing, are answered when looking at the works of charity, and by charity I mean gift-love or giving-love. These are the works of the outpouring of ourselves into this world.
1. We can welcome all people into our houses and homes. We can give them a place to stay, a refuge away from the cruelties of this world. Show them hospitality, good food, and great company.
2. We can give them of our bounty, our fullness. Give them of the grace of God which is given to us. Feed the hungry and give the thirsty to drink. As we have been given, so we ought to give to others.
3. We can give clothing to others to protect them from the heat and cold. Let’s face it, some people don’t have good clothes and you don’t have to go far to find someone in need of a good shirt and pants.
4. We can go into the jails and prisons and those that we can redeem or pay their way out by means of bail, we should do so. Some cannot pay their way. We should keep in mind that we have been forgiven and we ought in a similar way to forgive others and set them on a right path.
5. We can comfort those on the point of death. We can help those especially who do not know Christ, who lay at Hell’s door. We can lead them to love and introduce them to Christ who will take them to heaven. But, also, it is good just to sit with them in their last minutes taking special care of those whose last moments will be filled with bitter pain.
6. We can take care of those who have just died: give them a coffin, pay for a restful place in this earth for their body to lay. Show kindness to their loved ones who may not have the money for a proper burial or ceremony.
7. Finally, let us take care of the orphans and widows that are left alone in this world. They should not be left to themselves to waste away for lack of care. We should come to their defense when needed, and supply their needs.
By these things, we will attract all of humanity to the church. Misunderstandings will always abound, but the works of love will always soften hearts and even reason-hardened minds. And as a bonus, believers in the church who do these things won’t have time to be the terrible witnesses they have been in the past. By this, we can show the love of Christ to a pain-filled and despairing world who will only see their own reflection in the Christians who only try to put on a better face. The world will not see the face of Christianity as it is, only as they are able to perceive it.