Friends, I won’t lie. I wish I didn’t have any leftovers from this past Sunday. Sometimes being in community stinks.
This past week has been difficult for us personally and as a local church body, as a change carries the potential for divisiveness. Everyone involved has already experienced much pain and heartache, and I can’t say it will end any time soon. We have a wilderness set before us.
I wanted to share with you today an email I sent to a few friends late last week. I covet your prayers for our church and would love to hear any of your thoughts or experience on walking through the tough issues of community.
As we head into a heavy weekend filled with our own roller coaster of mixed emotions, I wanted to share two overriding statements that have been on my heart this week.
1) If we can’t figure out how to walk through the messiness that happens in community within our church, then where can we do it?
2) We have an opportunity to show the world that the Body is different by not responding as the world responds.
The world responds by finger pointing, grumbling, gossip, taking sides, stirring up dissension, lashing out, and leaving. We’re called in Scripture to forbear, carry each other’s burdens, love as Jesus loved (all the way to the cross!). On the heels of Easter, we find ourselves in a place where we may not be happy with the path he has chosen to bring us down, but we rely on the fact that his plan is perfect. We’re all sinners. We all need salvation. We all need grace. And as we’ve been given, so we also give.
I’m not saying to push the pain aside, to pretend, to be silent. But only a reminder to check our motivations. To do as much talking with the Father as we do with others. To realize that the implications of our response as a church and as individuals represent our Father to the world who will be watching. To cling together and figure out how we walk through this together. To roll up our sleeves and begin the hard work of moving forward.
Our community is worth fighting for – not because we want to get the pain over with as soon as possible or because we want to cling to our idea of church – but because community is God’s design for our lives. We challenge and ask questions and desire change because we love our brothers and sisters and want them to grow in their relationships with Christ, not because we want to prove who is right and who is wrong. We desire his sifting and refining by fire because we know the picture of Christ becomes clearer, more visible through our lives.
I write all of this as much for myself as for anyone in the to: line. Because I need to see the words in black and white to remind me that this life is not about me. Spiritual warfare rages all around us. I feel a particularly heavy burden to pray and maybe fast.
This Sunday is filled with potential – potential for devastation and division, but also the great potential to show the world the difference that having Jesus in our lives makes. And to show others in our church that when we say we value community, we really do.
I dearly love each of you. Let’s keep leaning on each other, encouraging one another, communicating, and loving.
For those of you in my church body, please know I’m not trying to invalidate any of your feelings and will not judge what you ultimately decide to do (or not). I simply desire to encourage us to respond (however that needs to be for you) in manner that points back to Jesus.
Marcus’s I am tired of franchised church
David’s A call for change in the current state of the church