Cue Black Eyed Peas
I always seem to get a giddy feeling when I see competitive sports with good sportsmanship. Something about the opposing team helping their opposition up off the ground, giving acknowledgement when someone makes a good play against you, or giving a high-five after a solid punch to the face. Granted, it’s not a very common occurrence, but I absolutely love to see that type of comradery from the opposition.
But then, the question begs to be asked: Why do we lack this type of behavior in the church?
I don’t mean to say that it doesn’t exist, but nearly every church has seen some kind of separation through its years. I haven’t seen anything extreme, but I’ve heard of people getting worked up enough over the music or seating arrangement that they feel the need to find a new home for Sunday morning.
A couple of years ago, I did see some division in my home church. While I won’t get into the specifics of what went on, one of the board members was making financial decisions without seeking approval. While their intentions were not necessarily wrong, they had agreed to the way things were to be handled and had gone against it.
Furthermore, when they were found out and approached, they became hostile and tried to shift the blame in the direction of the pastoral staff.
The reason Paul said the love of money is the root of all evil (1 Timothy 6:10) is because money is a tricky thing. If we’re not careful, it will start to consume us and there’s no room for both God and money (Matthew 6:24) and “You shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3). Paul specifically mentions money being an issue, but so much time is spent talking about other issues that we deal with.
When we look at the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), we see a list of characteristics that should be evident in our life since the Holy Spirit has filled us. First, we see the word “fruit” and not “fruits”, showing that each characteristic listed here does not stand by itself, rather with every other attribute coming as one big package – each attribute feeds off the other ones.
Even though it’s an uncomfortable subject, Jesus frequently talks about the attitude of the heart and striving to follow Him.
Now, I need to say this: first and foremost, I am talking to myself with all this. I frequently find myself judging the littlest of details in people or in a church that really have no affect on the bigger picture of what Church should be. When the pastor has mannerisms that bug me, or when the vocalist sings a little off, or when someone wants to talk to me when I’m in a bad mood.
This concept applies to us not only in the church, but wherever we find ourselves throughout the week. Social status plays a big part in what society tells us is acceptable or not and it, as well, is incredibly easy to get caught up in the thoughts of the world. In fact, Christ tells us the exact opposite regarding this, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2).
Christ didn’t care who came to Him. In fact, many times we see people coming to Him that are looked down upon in society. Prostitutes, tax collectors, lepers – they all had a place with Christ. If we are to be Christ-like, should we not be able to look at the smelly, homeless person with a sense of compassion, showing Him the love of Christ?
One great thing I appreciate about my church is their servant attitude. One regular practice is going out, among the people in the downtown area and handing out prepackaged lunches that were made that morning. The people receiving the gift have come to look forward to that day, when they get to interact with the people from my church.
Now, don’t think that the only way we can show the love of Christ is to go to some uncomfortable environment to spend time with people who have nothing. Often times, we are able to have a very similar impact without going out of our way at all, though it is far more uncomfortable to have the same conversations with people from school or work that we see every day.
Before I let my rambling go too far, I want to say this: the love of Christ is to flow through us in ways that can reach people simply by living our life according to the outline He has given us. Whether in our home church or our workplace, we must not be divisive, but rather unified with our brothers and sisters in Christ.
I have a desire to see a shift within the church to move back to our roots. The issues I write about are issues that hit close to home and I believe every Christian has the same struggle.
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