How Some View Things
It is not yet five a.m. and I just finished responding to an email from a young man with Fibromyalgia. It appears he has been very disappointed by the congregation with which he assembles and has become very bitter. In his mind, almost all of the brethren in the world are just like them. He was concerned about the poor and the needy and by the fact that churches are not attending to their needs. He has a good complaint, but his bitterness will never solve the problem. I tried to help him see that not everyone is like that and that outside of ourselves; we really cannot know what is in the hearts of other people. I spent nearly an hour writing him back to help him see that. Was it a waste of time? Who knows? Perhaps. But to me, it was time well spent.
Whatever we perceive is what we believe reality is. It does not matter whether it is right or wrong. Our view of things convinces us one way or the other. I choose to believe, like Jesus, that many of the wrongs people do are because they have not been shown another way. Jesus said of some of the Jews, “they are scattered as sheep not having a shepherd.” It seems that He believed that people often did wrong because they did not see right exemplified before them. They were not lead to right.
It is very easy, when we are disappointed by some, to perceive that everyone is bad. I am not the judge of God’s people. He is. If I see wrong, it is my responsibility to correct it in my life first, and then lead those who will follow into right things. You cannot teach those who do not hear. You cannot lead those who do not follow. But, it is our responsibility to look at some very important things.
First of all, anyone who claims to follow Christ must be given the benefit of the doubt. We must believe in the good of the heart, even if the external display does not seem to agree. Sometimes people are just bitter from a past hurt and their bitterness is a wall of protection from other hurt. It sounds strange, but it is true. Hearts can be softened and people can be lead, but it takes time and patience.
Secondly, people who “go to church,” do so for several reasons. Some go out of habit. Some go for what they can get out of it. Some go and do not know why. They just always have. Some go because they love God and His people more than they love themselves. Who really knows? Only God above knows the heart. But, aren’t you glad that every Sunday all over the world people are assembling in the name of God? Aren’t you glad that you live in a nation where God is still trusted by many who display that trust by meeting together and lifting Him up? Don’t you think it is a better world because they do?
Are we really doing the work God has put us here to do? Some are. But, hasn’t it always been that way. That does not excuse it. But it is that way. It is obvious from reading the Old and New Testaments that some were and many were not. But, that did not take away the fact that God was still getting His work done. Thank God for the some.
I respect the fact that people try, with what they know, to do the work of God on this earth. I am pleased to live in a country where “going to church” and being a part of God’s influence on this earth is important to people. I am not the judge of their value before Him, whether they are regular attendees or not. I cannot judge His servants. There are many things I do not like when I see them. There are many attitudes that disgust me, but these people are not here to answer to me. There are things about myself that disgust me.
I want to see God’s church alive. I want to see her serve and work among the masses of people in this world and make a difference. I want to see her grow and develop into a serving heart. And, if I have my way, I will continue to influence all that I can to have the same desire. The church is not dead or dying. You cannot kill that which God gives life. God was murdered on a cross. His body was put in a grave. But the only reason God allowed that to happen was to give life to His new body. It cannot be destroyed or killed. God can take the harshness of people and work His purposes through them. He has done it before and can continue to do it. My responsibility is to yield to His ever present moving in my life and allow Him to work through me.
Here is what I see. The church is alive and well. There are some who preach Christ from the wrong motives, but like Paul, whether from good motives or bad, Christ is preached. There are some who are hung up on all the wrong things, but God knows how to unhang things. God is in control and I am grateful for every believer who lifts their eyes toward heaven. This world is a better place because people get together in the name of the Lord. I take pleasure in that, even if some of them hurt us. And who is to say that I, myself, have not been the very person who hurt someone else? Perhaps it was you. It happens, but that does not make God’s church bad.
Aren’t you grateful that He saved us because of His love and grace and not because we have everything worked out in our lives? Take a close look at your brethren. Look at all of those flawed people. Isn’t it delightful? They are just like you. They are just like me. And, any of us who are saved are saved by His grace. Marvelous!