Sitting in one of my happy places looking at the burning bush just outside our window.
It’s autumn again, and only God knows how many left for any of us- time to give thanks (always is!!!) for breath, life and grace to experience it. U.S. Thanksgiving Day coming around again the end of the month.
Years ago a friend (rightly so) told me I all-too-often talked about where I’d come from, what we Christians call our “testimony”. He was correct in that I go to that all too often when I speak and of course I do not always mention it either.
When I’m in front of people behind bars and various other groups I find it important because of course addictions are massive most anywhere you go in our time -and that’s where I came from back in the day.
Like the beauty of the fall colors, the world keeps turning, temptations keep coming and we either turn down dark streets with next to zero light not knowing or not caring where we’re going… sometimes thinking in a quite mis-guided sort of faith that we’re “bullet proof”.
Then the day comes the leaves are off the trees and it’s freezing, we’re outside of everything without a coat, hat, gloves or a fire, without anyone to help us survive much more experience love, peace and warmth.
One of the most distressing things for we who hit such walls in life (often self-induced but not always completely via our own stupid choices) is when those who claim to love God and express on some level, His love, we find harsh, aggressive and condemning attitudes, words and facial expressions.
Why would anyone want to hang around such people? What “fragrance of Christ” comes from such a person, at least when they’re in that mode? I mean, they may love dogs (so did Hitler it seems) but is it “Good News” or “you piece of filth -you’re garbage and that’s what I think of you”?
It’s one thing to bring tough, needed words, to call for repentance (to turn around, fully going the other way) and faith in the Lord, another to blast, jerk and without genuine care and compassion just unload on someone “in His name”! Trust me, I’ve been guilty of it and hope to have grown in spiritual maturity and simple kindness over time. “Mercy triumphs over judgment” says the Book many claim to follow.
Also- I am not by myself “the church”. The very term at core has to do with “us”, “we”, that is people and not only individuals who have been found, seek and follow the risen Savior Jesus Christ as our Lord. Organized as you may or may not wish isn’t the point though some of us in our foolishness, ignorance or “superior intellect”, perceived “revelation” and such may deem it so.
You may not even believe in Him or consider a relationship of love and trust in Jesus an impossible myth. There are many reasons why people end up in that mental/emotional place and therefore take such a position of unbelief as truth.
One of them of course is the lack of genuine self-giving love nor even simple kindness in their experience with of those of us who constitute “church” or “Christianity”.
Kindness has taken me a lifetime to even begin to channel, and indeed I believe it to be God the Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ my Lord and God the Father Who “works and wills in me” to do His good pleasure including growth in the very things I’m writing about.
My “good pleasure” isn’t always even close to good… and very nearly killed me back in the day. Self-righteousness and harsh “put ’em in their place”… “MUST WIN the argument” stances are not virtues, no way near evidence of God working in our lives, nor through us in “ministry” to others!
As we approach election season here in the U.S. and just witnessed yet another mass murdering of “the other”, this time congregants in a Pittsburg, PA Jewish Temple -these thoughts have come to mind.
We all crucified Jesus as it were. Our sins. Our lack of love. Our demand to “have OUR way”.
The beauty of autumn is that after it comes winter and eventually another spring. Jesus said “I AM the resurrection and the life” and I am convinced He indeed IS exactly these and so much more.
“Church” is simply any two or more assembled Christ-followers (called-out ones) who in humility and grace seek and follow Jesus and His teachings. Church is comprised of all who believe in heaven as well as currently on earth, the “church universal” as theologians put it.
It is how I, how we confessing Christians love (or do not love) our neighbor that comes to mind nearly every day of my life.
All the “sound doctrine” of the church exists that we might mature into deeper, more authentic, sacrificial lovers of God and truly love our neighbor as ourself.
The repeating question is “How are we doing church”? It should and must be continually asked!
By the grace and love of God, in our interactions both with those around us in and far beyond the church, may we one day hear the answer to this and like questions:
“Well done good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your Lord”!
As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn