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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

One Heart and Soul

The store is being robbed. Vandals remove one item after another right under the owners noses. One thief takes takes large appliances while another takes small appliances. Some take jewelry and others take perishable goods. Eventually the store will be empty. Emtpy, that is, except for the owners.

You see, the owners are too busy arguing on the color of the walls, the temperature in the room and the music that should be played over the store sound system to notice that they are being robbed blind. Oh, they'll eventually notice but it will be way too late. Literally everything will be gone.

This is the scene in many churches. The church bickers over these exact things. They argue over the music, the temperature, the color of the walls and let the world invade. Many care little whether the Bible is preached, if souls are being saved or if conflicts are being resolved. Each person wants to have his or her own way. The church continues to diminish while the bickering continues.

I recently went to a meeting with several preachers. I heard many of them tell of the conflict in their churches. A few of them were looking for new churches to pastor. One even told of a petition to remove him which was being passed around in his congregation. How does this happen?

Jesus didn't save us so that we would fight with each other and be in harmony with the devil. He saved us to fight with the devil and be in harmony with each other. He didn't save us to have our own way or to obtain positions of power. He saved us to bring the love of God to the world. How will the world know the love of God if the people of God fail to love one another?

We, the church, need one heart and soul. We need to love on each other so much that we lovingly correct those who need to be corrected, forgive those who need to be forgiven, feed those who are hungry, pray for those in distress, worship with each other even when we don't like all the music and teach what it really means to be a follower of Jesus Christ.

The early church didn't have a building to worry about. They didn't complain about the color of the walls or the temperature. They didn't argue over the music nor did they castigate their pastors for preaching too long. They were so glad to hear the word of God and fellowship with each other that these things didn't matter. The Holy Spirit was an honored guest when they met. They acted because He was in them and they cooperated with Him in how they treated each other.

The early church was of one heart and soul. Isn't that what we need today?

Acts 4:32 (NASB) 32 And the congregation of those who believed were of one heart and soul; and not one of them claimed that anything belonging to him was his own, but all things were common property to them.


3 comments:

high-expressions said...

We are awfully far away from the scenario depicted in the verses you quoted at the end of the entry (Acts 4:32). I cannot imagine that, and perhaps, I do have a long way to go, in terms of “walking my talk”. But I do believe I am far from perfectionism, or perhaps I dare NOT to go there, in this regard. I do however, share the sentiment that believers generally do NOT love one another quite enough; meaning they would love non-believers more easily and readily than they would, one another.

What could possibly be contributing to such a scenario? First, I will NOT address the bickering of the leaders within a local church. Well, they ought to know better, and I don’t think I am presently having the measure of faith concerning this to “mediate”.

So, focusing on the congregation instead, first, I think we should begin with ourselves, the leaders of a local church; do we at all, speak to our congregation about this, the need to love one another, brothers and sisters in Christ, NOT just the general, love your neighbors. Do we be direct about this? I sure don’t hear this much in my church.

People got to be reminded that they should look out for one another, fellow brothers and sisters in their own local church who are struggling, who are in afflictions of life, and are hurting. Where is the warm in the local church, NOT to talk about, “Here, what is mine, is yours, take it!”? It is pointless to “light ourselves” only when we go outside of our church, and then when we are back into our church, the “light is off”. If I am outside of the church, and I see such a scenario, then I will be motivated to stay out there, for when I am out there, I can see the goodness of heart of the Christians being extended to me. “When I am with them in their church”, their goodness of heart disappear! In short, Christians should NOT just show concern to the non-believer, just because he/she is a non-believer, and the moment he/she is a believer, we don’t care anymore.

Sure, when a non-believer becomes a believer, he/she is to grow over time, and too, becomes a light to the world, but it is a terrible assumption that they will NOT struggle in their walk. Sometime back, a lady commented on this blog site of Ps Prentis, how years back, she and her husband were helping whenever possible in the church they were in, but when she contracted a chronic ailment, the church cared not, but only continued to expect the same level of help from them. From her writings, if I am NOT mistaken, she went over to other churches also, but again, warm was lacking in the church. In her comment, she expressed her concern about the kind of people are heading the church, as this would impact what kind of mindset the congregation has. In fact, she beautifully shared a story from her earlier years of how she witnessed a few sheep following after a leader-sheep which jumped into a fire – sheep are like that, they follow the leader, that was her message, and it is important what kind leader we have in our church. She was disappointed with church, but she, I believe, did NOT abandon the Lord, from the writings of hers.

So, it does begin with the leaders of the church too. These “NOT so good” attitudes, we need to take note:

One, “there is nothing we can do about such an affliction”, when all, the afflicted one asks for, are prayers. With great reluctance, will the pastor pray for you; until at the end of it, you feel what good is such a prayer, given so reluctantly! Sure, there are many situations that we cannot really help in terms of alleviating the actual affliction, but we sure can be there, to just lend a listening ear, when the hurting one needs one, or we can always pray for the person; we cannot help, but God can; we cannot perform miracle, God can. Even a comforting presence can help!

COnt...

high-expressions said...

COnt. from above

Two, we pick and choose! I also remind myself to be careful NOT to do that, and NOT to be appeared to be doing so; the latter, at times, is unavoidable; but we should be conscious of that, if we hold some kind of leadership position or is being looked up, upon. For example, I pray often for people during the ministry time in a church service, at the sanctuary front, with the congregation in the sanctuary; at times, it can appear from a distance (and I say it appears, NOT that it is actually the case) that I have preferred one over another, when praying for those in need. Yes, we do feel much for a very caring pastor or brother or sister, and we will go more “all out” to comfort him/her when he/she is afflicted; but then, we must remember that the exhortation for us is to love even the unlovable; we have to go beyond merit, we have to love the same way God loves, by grace. Sure, that gentleman who has been frequent monetary donor to our church, is sick, and we have to pray for him, but equally if NOT more, for a poor man, can only occasionally drop 2 pennies into the offering bag. If one who is likely to smell, is before you, do you pray for him, or do you pretend you don’t see him and you walk over to another properly dressed gentleman to pray for him?

Three, “but I only like to preach; I don’t like the ministry stuff!” I am sorry, we are all ministers, and are to minister, NOT just preaching! We can improve on this front if we pray to the Lord to help us, and we, ourselves, work at it. Frankly speaking, I did NOT like praying for people or with people; although I have no problem praying to the Lord. I am basically an introvert, a reserved kind of a fellow. But I also realize that the life of the Kingdom demands it, that I am a minister, and persevere to overcome, to go beyond my comfort zone. I am still very much a reserved kind of a fellow, but I move by the courage and strength I have in the Lord, and I minister in the sanctuary front before more than 1,000 eyes looking, and conduct my own marketplace Divine Healing Meetings to minister to people. You maybe a senior pastor in charge of a church, and have various ministries to so-called “take care of these things”, still you cannot avoid this area, it is the demand of the Kingdom Life; and it shows, and people can feel it, if your love is mere words or genuine. A pastor must NOT refuse to pray for a person in need of a prayer, and he should get into the habit of offering prayer for any who have shared of his/her affliction. The Senior Pastor of the church is a very important person for the local church; I am sorry you are watched, needless to say, by the Lord, but you are watched by your flock. Shallow believers might be impressed by the eloquence of the preaching, deep believers watch to see if you are more than just “I am the ‘CEO’ of the church, I only preach!” I am NOT saying preaching the truths of God is NOT love, but your flock learns love from you; if you only love by “preaching”, they may do the same, love by talking, NOT by doing. What kind of message are you sending if you are always NOT ministering to people, only doing the “ceremonial prayers”, when only other pastoral staff and member-leaders pray and minister to people in church services; you cannot always do this: you finish a sermon, and you get back to your anointed seat, and get others to do all the rest of praying and ministering of those with needs. Unconnected, but equally applicable as illustration that leaders are models, you cannot don’t praise and worship God in church services most of the time, and you expect the members to be full of exuberance in their worship. In many things, it is NOT the giftedness, but it is rather God looks at the heart first of all; giftedness comes afterward.

COnt...

high-expressions said...

Cont. from above

NOT to boast, for God forbid I boast of myself, but to illustrate it would be good if such, can be your scenario: I am NOT too old, but NOT young in age, but older folks come to me for prayers; and then there are people of other races coming to me for prayers. Indians come to me for prayers in church, when they can go to an Indian pastor, and we do have Indian pastor in my church. Why I wonder? I believe it is because people can see I do NOT pick and choose; and I do take note NOT to miss out the old and the needy ones, even the smelling ones, in church. Just that reader will know, I am NOT a pastor in my church, but an active member used of the Lord to pray and minister in the church.

I also want to point out that members of a local church should NOT push everything back to the church or church leadership. We cannot say, all the time, that we have pastors-what, “It is their job-what!” The depiction of the church in Scripture, as a body, with all the parts, like the human body, tells us that we have to work together, and NOT it is the pastors’ job. We cannot go before the Lord in That Day, and say, “My pastor was supposed to love on my behalf-what!” No, it is we, ourselves, have to love; it cannot be delegated away, just like that!

Remember I pointed that in some cases, believers love non-believers more easily and readily than their fellow brothers and sisters in their own local church. Charity or love is to start at home. In this case, it does NOT. In a goal-driven and meritocratic society like that of Singapore, and so, you where I am from, we do need to reflect on how come, we are “loving” and giving of our time to the non-believers. Please don’t get me wrong, I am NOT against the Great Commission, and neither am I saying that we should discourage the getting of people into salvation. But it is at the end of the day, the loving attitude that the Lord is looking for, NOT the “scoring points” attitude. When we have too strong of a “scoring attitude”, we will become too task-oriented, and mechanical.


Anthony Chia, high.expressions