February 24, 2014

Monday, Monday...

Oh yeah! I woke up with another sinus headache, this time, sitting over my left eye only. I am stuffy, and I feel, to put it bluntly, like crap. I have class today, and my hope is that once I get in the shower and the steam/hot water combo UN-stuffs my head, I will feel a whole lot better.

Yesterday was a difficult day. Church was fine in the AM, but we had an all-church meeting that was not what I had hoped it would be. I had hoped that after our recent transition whereby our pastoral staff was laid off we would hear about plans for direction and some hopeful communication to help ease the tensions, hurts, and feelings of loss and isolation. Instead I heard a lot of nothing, no plans, no vision, no direction -- just "we are working on it." Granted, I understand. It has been one week since the announcement but in business, rarely does staff reduction come without plans on how to address the shortages. You know, lay offs happen, and whether you like them or not, the peeps in the know generally give you some plan of how the ship is going to stay afloat and keep moving forward. I know, I know -- this is church -- this is not a business. Well, if the Church were run like the Church should be run and not like a business we would not have these issues. But the Church has not been run like a Church -- it has been run like a worldly business and the members have come to expect worldly business answers and actions.

I am a firm believer in the New Testament model of church -- Acts 2 -- the church predicated on the New Testament scriptures and founded upon the death, the burial and the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. I am confused though in how that model looks today because there are many churches out there that profess to model the New Testament. Unfortunately, I have not found one that seems to really be this model, to uphold the mandate, and to live out the profession of faith demonstrated by those first century Christians. Most of the churches I have attended over the course of my life have been broken by faction, division, and disharmony. Moreover, most of the churches have had rampant sin in them, sin that went unconfessed, undisclosed, and unhindered from any revelation that would serve to bring healing and restoration. Most churches have been messy places, where good people coming to worship the RISEN AND EXALTED Lord were hurt by other people who were there for the very same reason. This hurting has to stop. This approach to "church" has to return to the foundations of the faith that shouts out "you are welcome!" Yet, the Church itself seems to be in trouble these days. I am not sure why this is but there is a part of me that is coming round to see that the problem is that the Church is made up of two kinds of believers: those that are saved, and those that think they are saved.

I don't mean to question anyone's salvation but clearly there are different kinds of people who say that they believe. I have known a lot of Christians in my time, and many were very good people. Many were serving, loving, and dedicated people. Many of these people, I fear were not actually saved. Perhaps they were saved up in the head, intellectually speaking. I never saw heart-salvation, the kind that says "I accept you regardless of your faults, your background or your views on (insert X cultural subject)." No, it seems that there was a fine line between believing and being accepted and the crux came down to the nonessentials: cultural views and opinions (whether worldly or within the church domain). If you don't like the music, if you believe in abortion, if you carry a handgun, if you think men should lead only, if you think you must be dunked versus dipped, etc. Factions, factions and more factions. The Church is rife with factions, and it divides people into different camps. I believe this way, you believe that way so we cannot fellowship together.

I am not perfect, and I am not without my faults and my hangups. I make mistakes too, all the time, and I side with certain cultural identifiers. Yet, in my heart, I know that God grieves over this division, and that His Holy Spirit desires us to be of one mind, one accord, one heart. We are to move together in life, through life, to the end of life. We are to be united. Instead we continue to divide and conquer, to stand up for our way, the right way, and we hurt those around us who think there way is right, their way is the way to go.

My heart is broken over this division and this inbred hatred of fellow believers. I doubt anyone would think that they hate a fellow believer, but sometimes I think the actions speak louder than the words. I have seen behavior that was clearly not expressed in love. I have seen people crushed by words, words that were meant to be giving as correction and instead pierced the heart like a silver bullet. The heart is broken, and God's people are tearing one another a part simply to have their way, to make Church be the way they want it to be.

As I sit here today, I am thinking about my church, the little church where I attend, and how I see this same thing bear itself out. I hate it when the members argue or when there are people who are hurting because of words being said, actions not given in love, and now there is damaged in the body. When will we stop hurting our own flesh and start to embrace the arm, the leg, the eye of the body of Christ?

I don't know what this means to me, but I can say that at this point, there is part of me that wants to simply quit the Church business. I want to follow my Lord, and to live a life devoted to Him. I don't want to do "fellowship" though and I don't want to be in communion with others who are bent on dividing the body. Yet, I think that if I step out of the congregation what kind of message does that send to those that may be watching? Am I giving up, giving in? Or should I stand up and say "enough and stop it, just stop it!" No, I will remain because God has called me to remain. I will stay because He has made a way for me to stay. I will wait this out and I will trust that He knows what He is doing. God be praised, He doesn't need my help to accomplish His will for my little church. He can do it all on His own, and it will be His way, His way, His way.

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