Several days a week I walk past this church.
This day, the sun was beginning to set. It was what I call the golden hour. The sky was an intense blue and the church, which seems to usually be shaded, was illuminated.
I wanted to share this golden moment with you. The photos were edited and ready to insert into this post. And then I struggled. Wrestled, really. Today something happened that I had to continually stand against with the shield of faith and the sword of the spirit. It involved a church.
I believe in the church.
Ideally once we choose to follow Christ we need to be a part of a vibrant community of believers….a church. A good church is an amazing place filled with imperfect people worshiping God and learning together….loving God and loving His people while also making a real impact in the lives of those outside the church.
It can be a beautiful thing. The church is part of God’s plan. But, what is not a part of God’s plan is the way that those in the church treat their fellow believers, let alone those outside the family of God. I see it leader to leader, leader to congregant, congregant to congregant.
Over the past few years it has become evident to me that the core issue is love.
One thing I am pretty sure about is that when we love our brothers and sisters in Christ we will make a big impact on the world. The kind of impact that changes the lives of our family members, neighbors, and co-workers. And the other thing I am pretty sure about is that when we claim to love and don’t, not only are we a clanging cymbal as stated in scripture, but we create pain, weaken the function of the body, and cause the local church to be ineffective. And frankly what good is a weak ineffective church? None. That’s why we see church attendance decreasing and only something like 4% of Americans claiming to attend church regularly.
Here’s a hard saying: “Lukewarm people love others but do not seek to love others as much as they love themselves.” ― Francis Chan, Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God
It’s time to be honest.
Here is an important question to ask. Is ‘church’ about programs, agendas, props….or is it about truly loving God and loving His people? Many churches say they love God and fellow believers. The words are printed in literature or even on their walls. But, what happens if someone messes up? What happens if someone has an issue with another? What happens if someone is sick? What happens when a spouse has an affair? What happens if a child gets in trouble? What happens when someone loses a job? What happens when _____?
Once we make a commitment to following God, the next thing we need to do is to commit to love our fellow believers. That means rejoicing with one in good times, holding up another undergoing difficulty, offering hospitality to another, sharing meals with others, working alongside those in need, and when necessary, confronting, in love and restoring, one caught up in sin.
Francis Chan says it well, “Do you know that nothing you do in this life will ever matter, unless it is about loving God and loving the people He has made?”
So what do we do?
Love God and our brothers and sisters in Christ.
We don’t need to paste words on the walls or on bulletins that say we love God, love others, and love the world.
We need to love.
Let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. Galatians 6:10
Does your church/fellowship of believers genuinely love the body or do they just say they do?
What’s the most challenging thing to do…love God or love others?
What gets in the way of loving God and loving His people?
[Note: This post is a cry of my heart. I originally wrote it in March…which is why the photos show snow on the ground. It never got posted, as I was concerned how my readers (you) would ‘take’ it. Even today I edited it again. In the end…I’m just putting it out ‘there’ realizing that I might lose subscribers because it isn’t especially encouraging or uplifting or joyful, for that matter. But, after two eye-opening church experiences in different states, I see the purpose of church differently and I’m done playing church. I want to be a part of a church the way God planned and designed for it to be. And yes…I really do want to hear your thoughts too.]
The best way I know to fill my heart with joy is to give thanks.
The practice has changed my life. This giving thanks in all things…the good, the wonderful, the blessings, and even the disappointing.
Would you join me in counting just ‘seven’ from the past week?
I am grateful for:
- A sweet time of worship and teaching
- Grace….God’s unmerited favor
- Rain. Rain. Rain.
- Stars & Stripes Ribbon
- Living in a country founded upon God’s principles
- The blessing of dinner with friends
- Two dry days….before more rain
It’s your turn!
It’s a great exercise to think back over your week and hit the reset button. You’ll be glad you did. Just scroll down to ‘Share Your Thoughts’ below and tap in your seven. Want even more joy? Take the Joy Dare here.
Thank you for stopping by today. I appreciate you and your sweet comments make my day.
May your day be filled with God’s goodness and grace in extraordinary measure.
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