Wednesday, May 10, 2006

bandaging family wounds

"There will be no more . . . crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." (Revelation 21:4 TNIV)
To make Christ the center of your life is painful business. For with Christ's coming into your life, his bride comes along with him, his church - your spiritual family. A family made up of all kinds of people, not at all necessarily like you, and who, like yourself, do not always act so spiritual.

That means going on with God in the company of his church you will inevitably be often uncomfortable with what others in your family sometimes say and do. Still, you are called to extend peace and if your peace be rejected, to let your peace return to you. It means there will ever be points of tension and friction. Unpleasant as those moments are, they are moments God can grow within you things you could not otherwise possibly have grown, things such as peace-making and reconciliation, forbearance and forgiveness. There will be times you are very frustrated with the speed of things, whether that speed seems to be excessive or lacking. And it is at those times God calls you to mature in that which produces character - patience.

For you see, God, through means of his unquestionably uncomfortable, imperfect, sometimes nerve-wracking family called "church," can ever train you, stretch you, mold you into someone far better than you are now, someone better than you probably ever even intended to be. But you must be open to bearing the fruit of his Spirit, fruit that tastes like patience and self-control, kindness and love. If you are not, you will miss out on what is part of the mystery of the ages - how God can use an imperfect church to shape you more into his perfect likeness.

No, we are not promised an age or a time in our life, when the church, that is God's people, will not make us hurt or even cry sometimes. God has not promised a place, or even a place of worship, here in this world that has no taste of grief and mourning associated with it. Such a time and place of perfection is not the church, but is with the One to whom the church will someday be delivered up. Heaven has come down, but we are still "in process" as to glory filling our soul.

We do well to remind ourselves of such, and often, for the sake of our expectations and for the right placement of our hope. This world is not our home, we are just passing through. And while we each have been called out of this world and are no longer of it, the smell of this world and its ways stays in our clothes all the while we're here. Even here in his church.

So may God's Spirit give you strength of spirit today, to turn the other cheek, even though your cheek was struck by one who is your brother or sister in Christ. May God our Father, who spoke the world into existence with a word, and who controlled himself and remained silent even as the world crucified his Son, bid you watch every syllable that word that comes from your mouth, lest you needlessly, carelessly or even thoughtlessly and unwittingly, injure a single member of your spiritual family with an unwholesome or unhealthy word. And may Jesus, the One in whom we have everything in common, truly rule over our lives as Lord and save us from ourselves, each other, this world and its ruler, and everything and anything not of God.