I have become less enamored with church. We are part of a small, home church community, and even that has been less than satisfactory. What I’ve come to realize is that nothing is perfect this side of Heaven. And by perfect I mean complete. The church itself is a walk of sanctification. As a body moves when the joints and members move with it, it can also be hindered when the joints and members are hindered. Interestingly, as we physically age, our joints and members cooperate less if we fail to exercise and eat well. Hence, the church. Unforeseen problems occur. Frustration ensues. People don’t cooperate. We begin to see that Advil temporarily cures the body’s ailment just as a powerful Bible study or a featured speaker cures the church. Yet this is the place where my faith has increased ten-fold; where God has exposed Truth in such a profound and uncanny way that one cannot deny the existence of the Spirit among the brethren.
So my admiration moves out of the church as an institution, to church as a living movement of the Holy Trinity working in accordance with the Believers for the cause of God’s everlasting kingdom.
I no longer walk away saying, “Wow, Pastor Edward had a great message today,” I now walk away saying, “Wow, God’s Word is alive and working in my life and the lives of my brothers and sisters.” I now admire, cherish and expose the work of the Holy Spirit among us. Becoming less-enamored with institutionalized church is a higher call of the mature Believer as long as we reposition our admiration on God and His work in the body of believers we call church.
But that can sometimes be tricky. People are part of the church, and I find that agape and phileo love is increasingly difficult. When Holy Truth is exposed it comes with itself a particular level of responsibility. I call it the responsibility of joy: and that is love. What’s not to love about our church members? Ah, when they challenge our teachings; when they don’t respect our work; when they question God; when they refuse to think outside the box; when they exchange the magnificent for the trivial, and so on. And then I realize it’s ME with the problem. I blindly enter into these relationships with a certain level of expectation, and when my expectations aren’t met, I grow increasingly weary of the individual. Foolishness sets in and my heart is hardened; no love can penetrate; the humbleness of the Holy Spirit is my only cure. Time begs a response. I have a choice to ignore or–-once again-–be sanctified by Truth. Hebrews 12:4-6 is a bitter but hopeful reminder.
Of these things I find that intimacy with Christ and living missionally is the cure–-at least for me. And that means I must intentionally spend time getting to know my Savior through His walk, His teachings, His expectations and His commands. Then I must share this Truth with others with no worldly expectation. As a matter of fact, my only expectation in sharing Truth is persecution–for we are truly savages in our core. In serving, evangelizing or teaching, I nearly expect a savage response! Anything above that is God’s full and complete Glory. None of it belongs to me. And sanctification has its fulfillment in God’s glory when we not only recognize that truth, but live for it.
Joy has its rewards, but it also carries with it a higher level of responsibility than we might ordinarily be comfortable with. Sadly, most people would rather settle for a complicated and shallow life of worldly happiness.
Father, may I be your servant who is enamored by you alone, understands the responsibility of joy and willingly shares these precious Truths with the brethren and savages alike. Save me from my worldly desires which ultimately rob me of joy. My dear Heavenly Father, draw me closer still.
September 11th, 2009 at 7:33 PM
Will share with those I know online. Thank you for loving obedience and letting His light shine through you.
Reflection is most true when we look into the mirror of God’s eyes–found in His word.
Meat with salt, Angela.
(Amen —> Your prayer)
September 11th, 2009 at 8:54 PM
It’s really quite typical and normal for Mrs. Zimmerman to hit on the truth. But this piece really tops everything. The church is us — it’s the BODY of believers!
“Becoming less-enamored with institutionalized church is a higher call of the mature Believer as long as we reposition our admiration on God and His work in the body of believers we call church.” — this statement can only come from the Holy Spirit’s revelation. And He’s always showing us how we can become more perfect vessels.
The joy is for us, but without love for other parts of the body that joy is useless. Yes, that imperfect body — that’s — ME! The only cure: SPEND the time with HIM. The church is big on human relationships — but shouldn’t the body be BIGGER on HIM? Why don’t we do that?
Also, is it HAPPINESS or Godly joy? What a huge difference there is. Our jealous God is so sad when we settle on mere hapiness. We need to go a step further to drink in that pure, singular divine love that allows the Holy Spirit to redically transform us, from the inside – out.
Thank you, Mrs. Zimmerman, for being a humble servant willing to be used by God to see this truth. Amen!
September 12th, 2009 at 2:41 PM
Only God can prompt someone to write something that feels so relevantly personal to me “for such a time as this.” Not only does it echo many of my sentiments it brings insight and challenges me to CHANGE.
Thank you Angela for your candid writing and sensitivity to the Lord!
September 16th, 2009 at 8:49 AM
Good Morning Angela!
As I read the current article, I was led in thought to “Experiencing God: Knowing and Doing The Will of God” manual by Henry Blackaby and Claude King (Lifeway). If you haven’t had the pleasure of working through this manual, I would encourage you to do so. It has been a significant blessing to me and has helped change my life!
September 26th, 2009 at 1:49 AM
Thanks for the invitation to follow your blog. This was the first post I’ve read so far . . . and as I read it, your make me smile. I really believe that you and I have similar “kindred-spirits” as Anne of Green Gables would say. I feel so similarly to you in my heart – with a focus on wanting to draw closer to Jesus in every area of my life, and to be mission-focused in everything about what life’s all about . . . and desiring to keep my focus on the big picture of God’s Church, while still living life with the people in our fairly-small local church fellowship. You know, just as we (as wives and parents) and our kids (as siblings and children) grow as we learn to live as a family (with imperfect relationships between family members – siblings – parents – kids – and all the combos of those relationships) we also grow by learning to live life with our church family as well.