Saturday, October 27, 2012

Voting with our Feet

 “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another--and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:25)

So much could be said about this topic.
Why are we, even some of the most mature Christian people, sometimes tempted to walk away from church/ fellowship?

Well the simple answer I suppose is that we are hurt. Hurt by others in our Church, and especially by those in leadership. Having not thought about this for very long, I am quickly concluding that no matter what the issue is, we are hurt more by those in authority, and often by their inaction.

Before I say too much more, I’d better clarify that I am speaking from the point of view of one in authority, being an elder in our church, and may I also add that it is painful when I notice that people aren’t coming any more. It does hurt, and it feels personal. No matter what the issue is, it feels like I have personally failed the absent person, and maybe I have.

So one point I do wish to make is that when we do stop going to our fellowship meetings, we do hurt those in authority.

Of course I don’t mean those times when we can’t make it for other reasons, I mean those times when we deliberately have decided to divorce ourselves from the meetings.

Yes, there are many serious events that would lead us to a need to separate from a fellowship. Fortunately, or unfortunately, these days there is usually somewhere else to attend, so that we are still able to worship God with others.
Or we may end our church attendance all together at one of these points, feeling that it is God, ultimately, who has let us down.

In a big church, it might be easier to slip in and out of attendance, seemingly without much effect, but in a small church, our absence can be painfully obvious.

But even as an elder in our church, sometimes the thought goes through my head, why don’t I just leave. It seems so much easier sometimes, than trying to please people, trying not to hurt people, trying to listen to people, trying to love people.
It is so clear to me that I just can’t do it. Only God can.

Of course, Satan has something to do with this. He loves to cause disharmony, pain, and fracturing of fellowship. Especially in God’s household.

The cure of course is forgiveness.

We need forgiveness, and we need to forgive.

We are best able to live in forgiveness when we live in forgiveness.

I know that sounds stupid. But basically, when we most doubt our own forgiveness, is when we are most insecure, sensitive, and less willing to overlook our neighbours faults.

We try and try and try to do things right, so that we don’t need forgiveness. But really, in this striving, we are denying our need for the full atonement of the precious blood, of the Holy Son of the living God.
God has done everything (not holding back at all) to deal with every last bit of evil that flows through our mortal beings, and this is all a wonderful and priceless gift that we treasure. We need it every day, every moment, in every relationship. We live in the forgiveness of the cross, we share the forgiveness of the cross, and we practice the ministry of reconciliation, which God has entrusted to us.

Sometimes reconciliation means acknowledging our failures, talking out our hurts, apologizing, even when we haven't deliberately meant to hurt. Telling someone they have upset you can be hard. But telling someone else can be undermining. Not saying anything and leaving hurt is hardest.

We are God's children. We can eat humble pie. It hurts but it's a "good hurt".

So lets forgive, and not leave our churches.

1 comment:

Nigel Eaton said...

Thanks Joe - really helpful. As someone not in authority it's helpful to hear how it feels for leaders.