While I was reading an entry from Andrew Murray’s devotional “Waiting on God,” Romans 12 popped into my mind. This was the portion of the entry that I was reading:
“You worship with a certain congregation. Possibly there is not the spiritual life or joy either in the preaching or in the fellowship that you could desire…There is so much error or wordliness, of seeking after human wisdom and culture, or trust in ordinances and observances, that you do not wonder that God hides His face.”
My family attends church together and we are members of a congregation. We discovered a long time ago that no church is perfect, since the people who attend are just as sinful as we are and in need of God’s grace and forgiveness. We could church-hop for the duration of our lives and never find a place where everything is just the way we want it. And the fact that we even imagine that we could possibly find a church that does everything the way we want it to is a little ridiculous. One might say looking for a church based on those parameters is selfish and arrogant…well, I digress.
What is the purpose of attending a church? That’s what struck me, and brought up Romans 12 to my mind.
Verse 3: For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.
Verses 10-13: Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
There is so much that challenges me in this chapter- but most of all, I think about what I can do to serve my congregation- my brothers and sisters in Christ. Honor them above myself- give them the benefit of the doubt- maybe they are just having a bad day and need prayer, maybe they didn’t sleep well…
Build each other up- encourage each other- pray for each other- listen to each other- don’t just wait for your turn to try to say something brilliant (I am guilty of this too)- LISTEN. We need each other!
“Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought” = watch out for pride. That ugly beast rears its head in my life far more often than I would like to admit. And I know I care far too much about pleasing others. I also know I am guilty of being harsh in my judgments of those who I think may not like me or have rejected me in some way (in my perception).
I want so desperately to truly love others in spite of how they may feel about me or whether or not they want to be my friend. Maybe this is a shallow struggle that all of you out there have already mastered. But I find myself convicted constantly when I recognize that my thoughts about others are unfair or judgmental- or I am gossiping to my husband all the while trying to tell myself I am not. And my harshest judgments are usually centered on fellow believers- people in my church or other Christians I know. It makes me heart ache as I write this- yet I believe at times it is true.
Day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute- I pray that God will change my heart- that the Holy Spirit will convict me- and that I may rest in my identity in Christ and from that position seek to love my brothers and sisters in Christ- and all who I meet- with humility and grace.