A QUESTION THAT CAME TO MIND at a Wednesday evening testimony meeting revolutionized my understanding of the role of church in the community. As I listened to the readings from the Bible and Science and Health, I was impressed with the idea that God moved the hearts of the people in the Bible to discover their relationship with Him. This question then occurred to me as I sat in the large turn-of-the-twentieth-century church surrounded by a number of empty seats: Could it be that God had stopped moving the hearts of the people to find Him, or that God was not moving as many hearts as He once had?
Certainly, God, who is Love, would not withhold love from His own creation or love less at one time than at another. Therefore, God in His infinite love must continuously stir the hearts of mankind to awaken them to their inherent spirituality. God lovingly compels each hungering heart to find the truth of being. The role of the church in the community, then, is not to create a perfect human institution to attract attendees. The role of the church is to be a joyous witness to the persistent, powerful action of divine Love moving the hearts of mankind.
When Jesus spoke, thousands were naturally drawn to hear his message. Yet Jesus himself said, "No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him," and "I can of mine own self do nothing" (John 6:44 and 5:30). Jesus didn't consider himself to be the source or the power of the good he demonstrated. He gave all the glory to God. His purpose was to be a witness to the ever-present and ever-active goodness and power of God, to make this power so evident to mankind that all people could discover the true power behind their own existence.