There are just some things in life that are best experienced when broken into smaller pieces: information that you have to learn to pass an exam, a seven-course meal, a major project at work that requires a team to accomplish, a week’s load of laundry, developing a meal plan for someone who is recovering from an illness or surgery, decluttering your house of possessions accumulated over decades of collecting, planning a surprise birthday party, purging closets and garages of unnecessary objects … I’m sure you could easily add to the list.
That’s taking what’s one BIG thing and reducing it down to manageable bits for making good at the end of it all.
What about those things that should be left intact and whole but have fallen apart into smaller bits and pieces?
To first examine the situation, I like to call it “from the aerial view,” we may need to consider “how” the break began. When something experiences a “weakening” you can be assured that what follows will be tiny cracks and fissures that will lead to more cracks and fissures. Soon after, portions are losing their hold and no matter what you do, the grip from within is no longer evident and there’s a falling away.
I think an aerial view of some of our local church communities and once solvent Christ-centered groups may reveal a similar tearing at the seams. Groups which were once considered impenetrable and indestructible have given way to pressure from the inside out.
Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, 1 Peter 1:22 ESV
Finally, all of you should be of one mind. Sympathize with each other. Love each other as brothers and sisters. Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude. 1 Peter 3:8 NLT
If I were to ask you if you’ve ever encountered someone that caused you to make up your mind to avoid a particular group or gathering place, I’m certain you would have a box of memories just as I do, Friend. We’ve all had our share of “not-ever-going-back-there-again” experiences.
Let me bend your ear about one that I had many years ago at a women’s Bible study. Now, at first thought, you would think that’s ridiculous — only if you’ve never been there and done that. I had been invited by some co-workers to attend a local Bible study and decided to go and meet some new friends and enjoy a teaching in the Word.
Arriving early (that’s what we nervous-cuz-it’s-my-first-time-here people do), I walked over to the refreshments and coffee self-service area of the large meeting room. There were only three of us there at the time. As I proceeded to make my cup of coffee, a woman approached me and said, “You’re not putting sugar in that are you?! You KNOW what sugar does to the body!”
By now, you can assess that all sorts of thoughts began to swirl in my head. Everything from blurting back out to her that I was a certified fitness instructor and knew full well what both the sugar and the coffee would do to my body — thank you very much — to setting everything into the trash and leaving. After rushing the kids to school and taking the effort to look fairly decent on my day off, I needed that morning coffee. But I didn’t need her comment on the side.
No sooner said than done, a friend of hers came to her rescue (you can ascertain why I said it this way) and guided her lovely self in another direction. Thank You, Lord.
In a flashing instant, my heart rate and pulse were soaring — who needs coffee at this point? I still did not see any familiar faces in the room and I could sense that fight or flight burning in me ready to launch my jets back to the parking lot. With every ounce of Jesus in me, I stayed. Took my seat in the front row (hoping to remain focused on the speaker and not distracted by the coffee lady).
Had I exited prematurely, I would have missed out on a beautiful testimony that unfolded into a wonderful experience with a smaller group of loving women — in another room. Praise Jesus! He had put blinders on me for that morning and protected my spirit and enriched my soul.
When I reflect back on this one experience, I am cautioned to recall the parting words of our Savior as He quickly left His closest friends:
18-20 Jesus, undeterred, went right ahead and gave his charge: “God authorized and commanded me to commission you: Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I’ll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20 Message
Making others into Disciples of Christ — Jesus Followers — involves a willful act of surrender on a person’s heart.
In order to draw their heart towards hearing your words, they’ve got to believe you have something they want and need and cannot live without. To make the Gospel appealing to an individual who has yet to encounter the Risen Savior means our words are laced and graced with love.
Jesus declared that the world would know us by our love for one another and them — the unbeliever. If we are to live as Christ lives within us, His compassion must radiate even without uttering a word. And if I were to ask you to name at least two people who do that for you, a smile will raise those corners of your mouth as they come to mind.
Sadly, the local church has been challenged by many events over the past two years and we are now suffering the ill effects. Relationships have cracked and given way to dissension and division by the attack of forced opinions and political preferences. It’s time to remember what we’ve been called to do and lay down our mighty earthly causes that hold no eternal value. The boldness that we have been gifted to use is not harsh or intended to be used in a bullying manner.
For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” Luke 19:10 ESV
We have but one commission: bring them to the Lord in the meekness of His Spirit.
And we can best do that by loving others on the way there.
I love you to Heaven and Back, Girlfriend ~~
LindaRJohnson, TitusTwo Visionary