Over the past several weeks, we have explored the spiritual discipline of community. To read previous posts on this topic click the below links:
The discipline of community evokes a fluttering in my stomach and a race of my pulse. The affection I feel towards the church is fierce. I have experienced the sweetness that comes from people bound together with a love for Jesus. Yet, I’ve also experienced the unpleasant–the criticism and hurt brought on by these same people. So, when I ascribe a grit and messiness to the Church, I do so from a place of experience.
What about you? Have you been hurt by the Church? Is the “messy” just a bit too messy for you? Are you done?
I believe there is a path for you (and me) to discover a tenderness towards the Church. In order to uncover this path,however, we must first approach community with a clear understanding of just exactly what God originally planned for His people.
Every Believer is a Member with a Function that has Already Been Predetermined.
God did not create any person, you, the gossipy woman or even that handsy old man and ask Himself, “Hmmm, well, I’ve got this one made, now what am I going to do with him/her?”
No, God has a plan and He created each person with that plan in mind. Each member of the body has a function to carry out. Yes, the gossipy woman, the quirky teenager, even the overly affectionate old man have a function in God’s Kingdom.
God’s plan takes into consideration our imperfection. He wired each of us uniquely. With our unique compositions come strengths and weaknesses. When we come to understand that every believer is at their own distinct stage of sanctification (becoming more like Jesus), we begin to recognize the Church as a training facility not a museum of completed works.
Maybe that’s why you’re reading this post–you realize you haven’t spiritually arrived. Your hope is to go beyond your current level of intimacy with God. Your sanctification is a process and so is every other believer’s.
The discipline of community requires an acknowledgement and respect for the process of sanctification.
As we struggle with the rough edges surrounding the Church we need to recognize the distinct function of every believer is still being honed. And regardless of the Church’s countless flaws, every believer is a benefit to the Kingdom–even in their present state. God isn’t done with any of us. (Philippians 1:6)
When we turn the mirror around to examine ourselves, we likely will discover there are some who question our function in God’s plan. You may have a trait someone finds offensive. You are in the process of sanctification. If you don’t have it all together then you are a perfect fit for God’s Church.
There will always be people whom we prefer and others we don’t. Suck it up. The Christian community is made of people, people with sin–YOU with sin. The difference in the Christian community and a secular community is the sins of the believer have been redeemed. We are a community of grace–grace we offer freely because it has been freely given to us.
Question: How have you found the Christian community hard to deal with? Have you given up (or at least wanted to) on the Church?