Friday, November 6, 2009
WARNING: THIS IS LONG. AND I'M PRETTY PASSIONATE ABOUT THIS ISSUE.
Don't you hate hearing about a broken body? There have been so many in my lifetime. Physical and spiritual. But tonight I want to talk about the spiritual--the broken body of the Church.
My heart is devastated. I can think of 3 churches very close to my heart that have broken in the past year. And it's not the first break for 2 of those churches--they've become splintered. Why? Why can't people love...get along...learn the scriptural process for restoration? Is it because people don't know how? Or is it because they won't?
I know one of the churches I'm talking about even called in the help of a third party...but it still imploded. It's no different than a divorce. People who once loved one another are now on opposite poles on so many issues. The difficult part of this is that the Church is supposed to be a picture of what restoration looks like. And if we don't know how to do it, how can we expect our families to reconcile? We're to be salt and light and yet we can't even get our own relationships right.
I don't want to sound sanctimonious...not at all! I've had my share of difficult relationships in the church. And I've also been the problem in some of them. Seriously. But God has continually pointed me towards restoration. I can't tell you the number of times I've had to seek forgiveness for my attitude, words, or works. I've also had to confront people--which I hate even more. God showed me a few years ago that my biggest problem in being divided with a brother is a lack of submission on my part.
I can tell you as a mom that I hate it when my children don't get along. It grieves me with gut-wrenching grief. I can't imagine that God likes it any more than I do. But I've loved it when I've watched one of my kids humble themselves and seek restoration. And that's really what it takes--humility.
Now I do know of people who have humbled themselves. They have sought restoration--and it didn't happen. Just like some marriages. It does take 2 to have a relationship. BOTH parties have to be willing to come to the kneeling bench of communion and forgiveness. But shouldn't they, if they're believers and have the same Spirit of God living in them? I believe we give up way too soon if it doesn't happen immediately. It means praying and keeping your heart open until that person's heart is open. And it's keeping your mouth shut in the meantime. Too many times we want to expose that person for being wrong so everyone knows we're right. (Speaking from experience here!)
I remember when my grandson, Isaac, broke his leg. He was only 2 years old. It was so sad. I remember that before we knew it was broken, he was in our car and someone was messing with his foot and he started crying. It hurt! After going to the doctor, he got the cutest 4 inch cast. But he was careful with that leg for the longest time. The Church is a lot like that broken leg. If left unattended, it may heal but it will always be crooked and lose it's power. But a surgeon can put it back together like it needs to be. Healing can take place--correct healing. And even though the body of Christ may "favor" that leg for awhile, being very careful with it, soon it will return to full working order. And just like Isaac, they'll soon forget there was ever a fracture.
I'm just afraid that the body of Christ is becoming so broken, we're losing our ability to walk. Is anyone going to the Great Physician? Are we more concerned about being "right" than we are about our Father being grieved over our broken relationships? Would we rather suffer a division than have to humble ourselves and seek restoration with a brother in Christ? And if we do refuse to be reconciled, then do we feel so pious that we continue to tear down those we've separated ourselves from? How can that be right? How can those people be right? Where is the love? Where is the humility? Where is the Truth?
Like marriage, God never said these relationships were going to be easy. It's hard work!! I'm sure you know young people who say, "I'm never going to get married---I don't want to end up like my parents!" I think lots of people are saying the same thing about church, "Why go? They're no different than me." And yet we're supposed to be different. Didn't God tell us to be different from the world? I'm praying we get this right. We need to get this right. No, we must get this right! The health of the Church body depends on it.
Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.
I Peter 4:8