“…be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” – Ephesians 4:32
I had a pretty interesting experience in worship yesterday. It had nothing to do with the sermon (sorry Pastor Wade,) but I honestly did feel the presence of the Holy Spirit. I just love it when that happens; when you know that He is right there speaking to you.
I was sitting in the back, with a good view of everyone else, and suddenly I was compelled to begin praying for our entire church. Specifically, I began praying for those that have been hurt in the church. I looked around the room and saw several people that have either gotten their feelings hurt, or found themselves at odds with others here – myself included. I closed my eyes and had a great visual of all the members of our church family – many of whom had past negative experiences here, and many that might have had, but I didn’t know anything about.
And suddenly my heart was filled with gratitude. I was struck by the thought, “Thank You Lord. They all came back.”
That may sound strange to you, but think about it. Here we are, a diverse group of people that have nothing in common except our love for Jesus Christ. What else would have brought us together week after week for these past few years? But more importantly, what is it that keeps us together?
Consider this: we are family. We are bound together by so much more than social convention. Some of us are like Aunt Bee, and easy to love. Some of us are like Cousin Eddie, and require extra grace on a daily basis. We are insensitive and hurt each other sometimes. But in the midst of the normal everyday disappointments of this life together, we keep coming back. We keep worshiping, and serving, and growing together. That is a miracle that only happens by the grace of God. It is that grace, that supernatural love for each other, that helps us to see past our differences and see the image of Christ in each other. That is what keeps us together.
How very thankful I am for this imperfect church family. I am proud to be a member of it. I know that I am loved here, as I hope each one of you do. I am coming to recognize my identity in Christ, at least parts of it, are defined by who I am inside this family. I challenge each of us to consider who we are in the context of the church. 1st Corinthians 12 tells us that we are each a necessary part here, and needed. What is your role? I believe that you will find that you are perfectly suited for it.
Thank You for this family You have created for me. Help me, Lord, to be tenderhearted and grace-filled toward each one. Help me to be loving and respectful, even in the midst of differences. But most of all, my King, I pray that you will help me to be myself here. Help me to be authentic and genuine. Fill me with your Holy Spirit, that I might accept my family members as they are, and love them completely. Help me to take care of this family with which You have so richly blessed me, and show me how best to grow into all You wish for me here.
In the name of Jesus I pray,
P.S. If you can’t quite remember Cousin Eddie, just google him and have a chuckle today! Blessings.