I posted this months ago. But it’s a lesson I continually need to be reminded of…
It seems like a paradox that the church, the gathering of God’s people, can be an origin of hurtful relationships. How is it that church buildings are busting at the seams with people who have been hurt by other members of the church? In this world of suffering and pain, the church is supposed to be a place of peace and tranquility, right? It isn’t so. It hasn’t been so since the start of Christianity. People of God, like all people, are flawed and damaged. Paul addresses the concept of love and unity within the church in many of his letters. When writing to the Ephesians Paul reminds the church that “there is one body and one Spirit.” (Ephesians 4:4) He also says to “keep with the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4:3) In Colossians Paul tells the people of Colossae to “let the peace of God rule in [their] hearts, to which also [they] were called in one body.” (Colossians 3:15) Paul explains one of the duties of the body of Christ in Galatians as “bear[ing] one another’s burdens” (Galatians 6:2) which correlates to his message of unity in Philippians 3:10 when he mentions the “fellowship of sharing in [Christ’s] sufferings.” Paul calls the church to unity, to the state of being one body. This aspect of Paul’s overall message of community is a critical one. Paul’s mission as a pastor was to develop and help maintain a community within the churches he started. Therefore, the concept of unity is an inevitable lesson that must be understood by the church. Since the unity of the body of Christ is part of God’s design for the church it only makes sense that the church will try and stray from this calling. Paul understood that unity would take more than just the basic understanding of what that word means, it would take actually acting it out to really grasp its importance.
It’s difficult for me to talk about my sin to others. I get afraid that I might be judged. My insecurities creep up and prevent me from opening up. The story that God has given me is embarrassing to share. I don’t blame him, I’m the only one to blame, but there are some extremely ugly chapters that I’m scared to expose. However, I’ve learned that the more I share my testimony the more God gives me peace with my past. I’ve also learned that every time I tell my story I’m able to tell a little bit more and feel even more at peace.
We have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God,and God in him, Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgement; because as He is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts our fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. We love Him because He first loved us.
I had the privilege of being a part of both the Joplin and Tuscaloosa disaster response trips. Since being home, I’ve been able to reflect on both experiences and compare what I learned. While both cities experienced tornadoes, each individual survivor had different personal pain that they were dealing with and trying to heal from. While some stories might have sounded similar, the hurt behind their words was affecting them in different ways. Out of their pain, some chose to turn to God for security, and some chose to reject him completely. Some chose to move their family far away from all of those memories, and some chose to volunteer in their community even though they had lost everything.
I was five years old when I made the decision to follow Christ but I was eighteen when I really understood it. I grew up in wonderful Christian home and went to one the best churches I know of. I was active in my youth group and I went to every church activity I could. But I’ll be honest; it wasn’t until I left for college that I finally understood what I had been taught all those years. I knew all the right answers but I was missing something crucial. I was so distracted by everything I was doing for God that I prevented myself from growing deeper in my knowledge of who he is and what he had done for me; and I had lost the joy in my salvation. While I talked about Christ and I listened to a lot of lessons about Christ I wasn’t letting those truths penetrate my heart. It took a pretty big blow to my reality in order to finally really seek after Jesus.
My junior year of high school I had the most frustrating English teacher. Her name was Ms. Long-Shirley. We called her “Ms. Lion-Shirley” most of the time though, because her hair looked like a lion mane. But the frustrating thing about her wasn’t her hair. It was the fact that no matter how hard we tried she never seemed to be pleased with our work. If we made good grades on our test she would blame herself for not making it hard enough. Our book reviews were never “great,” if they received any positive feedback then they were “decent.” I knew there was something wrong with this lady when the top girl in our class got a “B” on one of her projects that obviously deserved at least an “A“. There was absolutely nothing that any of us could do to make her pleased with us.