Being and Becoming God’s Church
For the second week in a row, the pastor of a congregation gets an anonymous note of discouragement from an attender who is unhappy with the way things are done. Sigh. It is enough to bring leadership to their knees before God asking for help to keep going, doing what God has asked you to do. in spite of the circumstances. The power of our Christ alive keeps the pastor going. Harmony has a discord but passionate prayers are lifted up asking for the “choir” to find the right “key” and stay on it. Caring confrontation with a passionate heart for people, said in a Spirit of God’s love, keeps us “in tune” with God’s purposes for His church.
This is Paul’s work in a nutshell. We are encouraged and take courage that we are not alone in the mission to help people find and follow Christ. The small stuff of “church life” is just that…small stuff. We must stay alert, evaluate our hearts consistently to make sure WE are not the problem but the solution to harmony in God’s church. We are God’s church. The church belongs to God. The church does not belong to us. Christ is the head of the church. We are not. When we put all this into perspective, harmony is within our reach.
Paul closing words to his beloved brothers and sisters in Corinth are full of passion and love for God’s church.
2 Corinthians 13, The Message
5-9 Test yourselves to make sure you are solid in the faith. Don’t drift along taking everything for granted. Give yourselves regular checkups. You need firsthand evidence, not mere hearsay, that Jesus Christ is in you. Test it out. If you fail the test, do something about it. I hope the test won’t show that we have failed. But if it comes to that, we’d rather the test showed our failure than yours. We’re rooting for the truth to win out in you. We couldn’t possibly do otherwise.
We don’t just put up with our limitations; we celebrate them, and then go on to celebrate every strength, every triumph of the truth in you. We pray hard that it will all come together in your lives.
10 I’m writing this to you now so that when I come I won’t have to say another word on the subject. The authority the Master gave me is for putting people together, not taking them apart. I want to get on with it, and not have to spend time on reprimands.
11-13 And that’s about it, friends. Be cheerful. Keep things in good repair. Keep your spirits up. Think in harmony. Be agreeable. Do all that, and the God of love and peace will be with you for sure. Greet one another with a holy embrace. All the brothers and sisters here say hello.
14 The amazing grace of the Master, Jesus Christ, the extravagant love of God, the intimate friendship of the Holy Spirit, be with all of you.
What do we learn?
–Reading the whole 13th chapter brings to mind my mom, saying, “Wait ’til you dad gets home…” and you know the rest. I also hear God saying through Paul, listen to him, “Don’t make Me come back there again”…get it together! Our parents discipline us because they love and care for us deeply. God care and love for us goes even deeper for his children.
Embrace the amazing grace of the Master, Jesus Christ.
Embrace the extravagant love of God.
Embrace an intimate friendship with the Holy Spirit!
The more we embrace grace, unconditional love of God and intimate friendship with the Holy Spirit, reprimands will be less and the harmony of God’s choir will be more beautiful than we can think or imagine!
Dear Heavenly Father, Keep our hearts pure, our motivations selfless, our praises going to You and our minds on Christ. Help us to see others through your eyes. Help us to care enough to confront but not until you give us the right words at the right time and in the right Spirit. In Jesus Name, Amen