Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Purpose Driven Life - Day 21





Day 21 - Protecting Your Church


Because nothing on earth is more important to God than His church, members are commanded to protect it. This seems like a huge undertaking and perhaps it is, but it is not much different than protecting the unity within the fellowship of your group - just on a larger scale.

We begin this by focusing on our commonalities rather than our differences.  The human race comes in many shades of skin color, eye color, hair color, cultural differences. But a believer is a believer, sharing one God, one faith, one eternal life, one Kingdom of God.  Pastor Rick reminds us that "It was God who chose to give us different personalities, backgrounds, races and preferences, so we should value and enjoy those differences, not merely tolerate them."

One of my personal sayings and beliefs has always been that when you take a real look - we find that we are more alike than we are different. 

We must, however, be realistic about our expectation of the church.  We often get lost in the ideal image we have in our mind, forgetting that the church is made up of humans, and humans are imperfect.  When we are faced with the realness of the church we are a member of - we at times feel that we are failing.  The fact is that growth is a life-long journey ... even in the church and if you are trying to find the perfect church - with perfect people ... you will spend a life time searching in vain.  There is no such entity.  You will not find perfection here on earth.  The fact is that all humans - even the most devout Christians make mistakes. Humans are flawed - and if you want to be accepted in spite of your flaws - you must then be prepared to afford the same luxury to others.

Pastor Rick advises that we must try to encourage, rather than criticizes one another.  For when we stand and judge those who are trying - but failing, we too have failed.  The Bible calls Satan 'the accuser of our brothers' and it is Satan's job to criticize the members of God's church and when we take on that role, we are doing the Devil's work. 

As humans, in general, I feel like we do need to lift one another up! Stomping someone into the ground does not make us taller, in fact, in God's eyes, we are sinning more than the one we have pounded into the dirt. We need to remember that in the end - only God can judge.  Let me just say that I am a work in progress in this area.  I have had much disregard for religious members. I have judged them to be hypocritical.  And for the most part - I do feel that many are hypocritical. One thing I have learned is that it takes more than attending church once a week to make you a Christian ... if you live a life of sin the other six days a week - and then put on the 'holier than thou' hat on Sunday.  Well.....  I am guilty of judging this behavior.  

One of my favorite Pastor Rick quotes in this chapter speaks to gossip.  He says: "When you listen to gossip, it is like accepting stolen property and in the end, you are just as guilty of the crime."  He also reminds me of one of my favorite sayings ... "if they will gossip to you - they will gossip about you."  Simply put, just don't do it. If someone brings gossip to you - you need to tell them that you do not wish to listen to it. Think of it as toxic. Dirty. Easier said than done, though isn't it?  I think I can say that we are ALL guilty of this sin.  Another self-betterment to work on.  

Bottom line, when there is gossip in a church or any group ... that is the beginning of the end. Especially in a church, as believers who spend their time wagging their tongues about the business of others, are clearly there for the wrong reason.  I think this is just common sense.  

When there is a conflict within the church, God commands that we follow His direction for resolution.  1) We first need to approach the person with whom there is conflict and try to rectify the situation. If the other party is not open or receptive to hearing you, then you proceed to the next step. 2) Trying again to approach the other party, but this time bringing two witnesses with you.  If a resolution still cannot be found, you then must proceed to the next step. 3) Taking it to the church.  

"Take it to the church, if the person still refuses to listen after that, you should treat that person as an unbeliever." - Jesus

Finally, we need to support the Pastors and Leaders of the church for it is a heavy load they carry in guiding, supporting and uniting all of the members of the church.  

"Let us concentrate on the things which make for harmony and the growth of our fellowship together." - Romans 14:19 (PH)

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With that, let me say that today is day 21 - which is the half way point in the new edition of The Purpose Driven Life.  I must say that I am really enjoying my journey - learning a lot. I do hope that you are enjoying my daily postings. I hope that you have found something thus far - that inspires you ... a moment of phrase or topic that has given you food for thought. Or maybe even has persuaded you to begin your own journey. 

Day 21 also concludes the 2nd of the 5 purposes for our lives. The 1st purpose being that You Are Planned For God's Pleasure.  The 2nd purpose being that You Were Formed For God's Family. Tomorrow we being examining the 3rd purpose:  You Were Created To Become Like Christ.

Until tomorrow .... Love & Light my Friends!