A few years ago I had the opportunity to relate to a young couple in ministry. She shared how they had a woman recently come to their church who felt at home enough to ask if she could be part of the worship team. The leaders were struggling with this as she had a couple of marriages that had ended in divorce and was now sexually involved with another man. They were looking to me, an older, wiser man of God to give them counsel on how to handle this situation. At this point I received what I call automatic mouth. I spoke out a revelation from God that I had never even considered before. We all sat there stunned with the impact of the statement, only I didn’t want them to know how equally stunned I was. After all, I was the mighty old man of God.
What did I say that was so stunning? I said that in the church we got things backwards. God has called us to love the people and He would change them. But we think we have to change them while He loves them. I don’t know what they did in their situation but I do know that this statement is profound. I sat there after I said it thinking of all the times I had tried to change people instead of love them. No wonder they didn’t hang around. Who wants to be a project or feel judged for not measuring up? No one! We wouldn’t, yet as ministers we do it to our congregants all the time. Jesus said to the Pharisees when they brought the woman caught in adultery to Him that the one without sin be the first to cast a stone. They all left from the oldest first to the youngest lastly. We all fall short of perfection or being sinless. We all need mercy and forgiveness. How quickly having started from a position of complete and utter helplessness needing someone to set us free we move to judging the actions of others.
In John 17 Jesus prays for His disciples, which includes us. He asks of the Father that we may be one as He and the Father are one and that we are brought to complete unity to let the world know that the Father sent Jesus and loves them even as He loves Jesus. He also said I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them. Jesus prayed for our unity to be complete for the sake of the world. By our unity they will know that the Father send the Son. For this to happen the love of the Father has to be in us. The Father’s love was sent to us in the form of His Son to restore us relationally to Him. The church is the Son’s body and should reflect that love and acceptance to the world too.
Some times in discussing the relational ineptitude of the church with others we make the statement that people of the world do not treat each other so badly. But I don’t think that’s true. They aren’t any better at relationships than the church. There is bitterness, jealousy, envy and backbiting rampant amongst any group of people. The big problem with the church is expectation. Some how everyone knows that the church should act lovingly to each other. Maybe in Jesus’ prayer He is revealing a key that brings revelation knowledge to people. Maybe that key has been written upon people’s hearts. When we act lovingly towards each other, genuinely love each other, the church experiences revival. When we don’t act lovingly to one another, the level of disappointment is so huge as we expected so much more. In our heart we know this isn’t right, there is a better way.
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