"This life therefore, is not godliness but the process of becoming godly, not health but getting well, not being but becoming, not rest but exercise. We are not now what we shall be, but we are on the way. The process is not yet finished, but it is actively going on. This is not the goal, but it is the right road. At present, everything does not gleam and sparkle, but everything is being cleansed." --Martin Luther

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


Oh friendship-it is a fickle thing. So, so many of our friendships are more about what we can “get” than what we can give.

We have business friends that we hope will help us climb the corporate ladder.

We have casual friends that we hope will connect us to the “right” people.

We have acquaintances that we keep, that we allow to be near us, as long as they give when needed and don’t bother us too much.

We have REAL friends that are all about community, about sharing life together, about growing in the Lord together, about ministering to the hurting.

Sadly-these are just our friendships at CHURCH. And out of the four, that last one is the one most often missed, the seemingly lest important.

Once you start thinking about what this looks like, how do you shut that out on a Sunday morning and worship GOD? Do you keep your blinders on and not think about what the guy next to you or over in the other section said about you or someone else? How do you make worship about GOD when His own body (the church) is hurting each other all around you? What is the point of a church anyway?
In Beth Moore’s ESTHER bible study she says, “I’m not sure we’re ever in a more uncomfortable predicament than when we discern evil in someone who other people esteem. At no time should we be more prayerful or careful to search our own sin-driven souls.” P.60 (Evil sounds big and scary-but I am thinking more just of things like pride, malice, gossip, etc., some of those “little white sins” we don’t take as seriously as we should.)
The early (New Testament) church was a group of believers getting together to meet, learn more about Jesus, encourage each other (often in their sufferings), pray together, and worship the Lord together. But really-take a look at Paul’s letters to the churches…they had some of the same problems we have today.

Is it our friendships that are so fickle-or just people? If it is people, then why does God ask us to be involved with them?

He does want us to be involved with them-but our faith does not depend on them.

We’re supposed to be the hands and feet of our Lord, living out the mercy and grace He has shown us, comforting those with the comfort by which we ourselves have been comforted. Instead, we don’t want to associate with those who have labels-drug addict, alcoholic, child molester, pornographer, poor, Hispanic, Black, (any color but our own), the down-and-outters… We want our churches to be of people who are at least good enough to make it look to the outside world that they have it all together. That way, more people will come, more people will give, more buildings can be built, more numbers (may) will come…
Christ said it is not those who are well that need a physician. The Pharisees thought they were the ones who were well-but Jesus examines the heart.

What are your reasons for coming to church? To be with others like you? To find opportunities to serve those who need it, who maybe aren’t as “whatever” as you?

There is a struggle because of the fact that a church is essentially for the believer to be encouraged with other believers and to worship God. What does that encouragement look like? I need to be encouraged during my tough times, not a pat on the back when it looks like I am doing well. But there are non-believers in our churches as well. Do we really think that the perfection we TRY to present is what makes them want to attend, want to get to know us?
I remember a previous pastor looking up at a worship choir saying wow-I know what some of those people are going through. And to see them up here worshiping God publicly-amazing. Why are we so afraid to not be perfect?
I am not perfect. I am not comfortable. I am not a safe friend to have. I would much rather be worshiping together with 10 other people who will admit that than 1000 who are trying their best to not let anyone else in the world know it. They aren’t fooling anyone. And they definitely aren’t fooling God.
And so we struggle. We struggle with how God is so amazing and sovereign that HE can use different models, at different times, for different people. And fit it altogether. And how do we fit anymore? Do we? What purposes does God have for us in our home, at our bible study group, at our church?

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