I ran into a dear, old acquaintance this week – old in the sense I have known her for over 40 years, and also old in that she is elderly. I’ll refer to her respectfully as Mrs. “J”. Her husband, now deceased, invited me many years ago to sing in the choir at their church. The end result was that I met my husband, Phil, there. Being the shy person that I am, I introduced myself to Phil ( he had already noticed me though, because he knew my name) and that began what has been my most treasured human relationship. Church is a wonderful place to meet one’s spouse!
Talking to Mrs. “J” again was a chance to recall some precious memories. We mentioned the fact that I sang in the choir under her husband’s direction. I also led the Youth Choir for a year and one of her sons played the piano and three other of her children sang in the choir. During that time I learned many of the old gospel songs that still mean so much to me. I reminded her how blessed I was by her mother-in-law who was in her 80’s and always sat in the front pew. Mrs. “J” Sr. was the widow of the former pastor and I always wondered if she had always been in the front row to support her husband when he preached – then just stayed there after he passed on “home”. She would get very excited whenever a song about heaven was sung, raising her hand and often even shouting her love for God. This godly saint longed to be in the presence of her Lord Jesus.
As we talked, Mrs. “J” ‘s countenance became sad, and she asked me if I had heard about the changes in her church. I had, and like so many of us, she had experienced a split in her church that hurt her and members of her family to the core. Phil and I have experienced a splintering of a fellowship and we have said that it was a hurt and betrayal of commitment that felt to us in some ways as a divorce must feel. I heard a Bible teacher once say that the Christian Army is the only one that shoots its wounded. We Christians have a tragic, yet well deserved reputation for lack of unity. This is a sad commentary to the world around us on Jesus being the Prince of Peace.
Fortunately, by God’s infinite wisdom, the true Church is not the building, denomination, or even the group any of us fellowship with on a regular basis. The Church is the Body of Christ made up of all of us who have put our faith in Jesus as Savior and Lord. The blessing in this is that there can not be splits or divisions of the true Church. It is a spiritual creation of our Heavenly Father and is not based on any man-made designations. This is a truth that is important to communicate with our children. It is important for several reasons.
- We want our children to identify with the true Church (Body of Christ) – not a building
- We want our children to know that we as people fail, but the true Church has stood the test of time and is eternal (Colossians 1:17-19 (NIV)17 He (Jesus) is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. 18 And He is the head of the Body, the Church; He is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything He might have the supremacy.)
We want our children to be connected to other Christians to build the true Church – not become “Lone Ranger” Christians flitting here and there, tossed about by every wind of doctrine (Ephesians 4:14 KJV)
We want our children to know that even when hurtful, wrong things happen in the Church, God is bigger and is at work to accomplish HIS will through His Church (Ephesians 3:20-21 (NIV) 20 Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, 21 to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
I love the Body of Christ! I have been blessed my whole life with brothers and sisters in the Body who have loved me and encouraged me in my journey to become all God has called me to be. I want to conclude with the following verse. If we can model this for our children and grandchildren, we will honor our Heavenly Father –
Ephesians 4:1-3 (NIV) Unity and Maturity in the Body of Christ
4 As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.
Amen! Thank you Gayle for expressing and living out the glory of God through the Spirit of Christ Our Lord. Your words are a blessing to all. I miss seeing you and Phil and hope all is well with your family. Congratulations on your new grand children.
Patti, I’m thankful we are sisters and joint heirs! I miss seeing you as well, and hope you and your family are well. We pray for Josh and his safety serving our country.
This is very well written. I grew up Catholic, but am now Methodist, and I think that if my own childhood church or my parents would have emphasized what you wrote more, I would have been less eager to leave. Also, I’ve talked with a few individuals questioning the validity of Christian faith, and they use this “broken church, broken faith” argument against giving Christianity a chance.
I’m so thankful that God forgives our shortcomings and will use us to share His love if we are willing. We must pray for those family members and others so that they will see God’s love in us.
Great post, Gayle! Those are good things to remember. Relationships are so important and it is sad when people disagree and part ways. It is, however, very common in the Christian walk. The saddest thing, for me, is when people carry that hurt forward and are never really able to forgive. This can be the most damaging thing of all.
We love you both and I’m so glad you agreed to sing in that choir! (I’m sure Phil is too.)
Tim, I am so thankful for the fellowship we have had with you and Angie over the years. You are right – as Sally Fesperman always said – we must walk in forgiveness. Life is relationships!