A silent grief...

Painted Bunting

This relative silence here on Pollywog Creek? It's a reflection of a grief that I've been struggling with these days, and a fear of my inability to properly articulate it without being misunderstood. I suppose this fear is an albatross for all who are compelled to write - that our words will accurately reflect our intent and emotions and not be a stumbling block that misrepresents Christ. 

So let me say this: I ask God daily to give me only love for those with whom I disagree, but my love for Christ and the sacrifice he paid that I, the chief of all sinners, could die to my depravity and live whole and free in Him is a love that exceeds them all. It wasn't a broad stroke of tolerance - for it was a liberal church with a wide-open door that I left as a young person - but the grace of God in the atoning, sacrificial blood of Christ on the cross that saved my soul. Period. 

But here is my grief - I know what it is for a body of flesh to be at war with itself - the way it burns and cripples. And as I've wandered about lately in the virtual spaces of blogs and statuses and tweets, I've been overcome with grief at how the body of Christ is at war with herself. How relationships between brothers and sisters have burned away in the heat of arguments and jealousy and the foolishness of our own understanding and most grievous of all - we've forgotten the most excellent way and the love that covers a multitude of sins - and as a result, the body of believers appears before the watching world to be limping about as a cripple.   

I know that we're imperfect people bumping up against other imperfect people, but we serve a perfect God, who alone knows best, and he commands us to love Him and others, and that our love for each other is how the world will know that we are His.

And the truth is that mature and sincere love for each other doesn't build walls and bicker like little children.

We've been calling each other down, when we should be lifting each other up that we might...
...consider how to stir up one another to love and good works.
Hebrews 10.24
The eye says to the hand, "I have no need of you," and I see it everywhere. When those called to acts of service and mercy turn away from the prophets and teachers who are called to speak the hard truths of God's Word - maybe because they deny the authority of Scripture or because it's been spoken harshly, but they don't realize that they are walking in the foolishness of their own understanding. Those who are compelled to speak those hard truths, sometimes do speak harshly and without love, failing to respect and encourage the hands and feet who tenderly reach out to the fringes and least of these. 

We act like little children. It's his fault, he hit me. No, it's her fault. The church is too conservative. It's too liberal. It's too contemporary. It's too traditional. Young people leave church because we've been doing it wrong. 

The truth is this {it was certainly the truth for me} - young people, old people, and people in between leave church {not change churches} when they don't know Christ to begin with, they aren't growing in Christ from a lack of discipleship, or they are more concerned with meeting their own needs and  desires than worship and fellowship in the Body.  

Don't get me wrong, we need to pay attention and reach out in love and concern to those who leave the church, and if that is what we are personally called to do - then just do it, but don't tear down the church and all those who are faithfully serving with their different gifts in the process. 

It's not denominations, generation gaps, worship styles, or Bible translations that fuel this war - it's a body that fails to realize that Christ is the head and every member is needed, and that we are to live the more excellent way. And at the risk of losing readers and friends, it all depends on believing and submitting to the authority of scripture. To believe that Jesus is who he said he was is to believe the truth of the whole of scripture - even what we don't like or understand. 

I was blessed this week to meet with the young worship leader at our church who had asked me to be part of a team that develops creative ways to communicate how God is at work in our midst. I'm most grateful to be in a church with pastors that make the gospel the foundation, teach all truth in winsome and humble ways, and has the mission to grow disciples that will love and live like Jesus.

As I thought about writing this post, I sent the following message to that worship leader, and it's my heart for each of us for I love you all dearly, my brothers and sister: 

Thank you for recognizing my gifts and making room for them and for not discounting my generation and the experience and gifts we can bring to the table. I love the Body of Christ and how God uses each one of us in different ways to be winsome ambassadors for Christ and to spur each other on to the love and good deeds for which he called us to before we were even born - that we work together to bring glory to Christ alone - for he alone is worthy.

Update: With the beautiful language of a poet, Sarah Bessey's post today is a call to this love. I highly recommend it.

Painted Bunting