The above picture is from a small group Alexis and I “lead” for three years. Normally when you think of “leading” it’s a lot of ideas about preparing, mentoring, and “bible study stuff”. In our case, it was a lot of those things, but a whole lot more. However, in spite of a lot of heartache, trauma, and down right warfare, we came to love each other as family. It’s been about six months since our last time together and well, just about everything and anything you could imagine has changed. Plans have been “altered” and our paths have been dramatically shifted in such ways that we almost never intersect anymore.
Yet, I would like to believe that if anything horrendous occurred we would remember the three years we were together and not let regular “life” get in the way of genuine relationship. I hold onto this hope, because, I know that within the church (of people) it can seem nearly impossible to be the Church (of the bible) we see. One of the scriptures that motivates me to be the leader that I know God has called me to be is Colossians 3:12-17:
12 Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. 13 Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. 14 Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.
16 Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts.17 And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.
So much can happen, disasters, deaths, disease, misunderstanding, miscommunication, warfare, mistakes, unforgivingness, and the list goes on and on – the bottom line is that we are dealing with humanity, and not just humanity, broken humanity. If we look at the relationships God has placed in our lives, can we say “he made a mistake”? No, we can’t – because he doesn’t make mistakes. Rather, we need to look at where maybe we made mistakes, and where we need to take the next steps to enter into community in the way he calls us to do – in peace and thankfulness.
Of course, let us not place ourselves in relationships where the enemy can cause harm amongst us, and let us not make relationships which do not honor our Lord – for that is not representing Him. Even in the Church the enemy has headways, and many times those are the areas where the Church fractures, where people get upset, bitter, and confused – because many times, in our broken humanity, we put the blame on our fellow brothers and sisters rather than the author of lies (the enemy). Of course, please do not hear me say none of us have responsibility for our actions, we do, it’s just that we need to recognize the author of the lies that drive our poor actions and choices.
Our responsibility to one another should be driven by honor, wisdom, and love. Many times this means allowing those who have gone before us to speak into our lives and provide guidance, even when we don’t really fully understand (or necessarily agree 100%) the guidance, that’s the season I’m in right now. Out of obedience to the principles that Christ laid out for His Church we shall prosper and live the abundant life.
There’s a lot more I could write, but I simply want to state this – if we filter our actions, our decisions, and our relationships based on the above, then maybe, just maybe, we might begin to see a love that surpasses all understanding, and they will know us for our love. It’s possible, I know it is, I have been there, multiple times – it’s a challenge, and it’s humbling, and not always easy, but it always rewarding. Do you value your relationships as Christ has called us?