“Before any congregation can hope to excel at soul-winning,
the officers and members must first
be at peace with each other.”
— Andrew W. Blackwood
As I was growing up in the same church from toddler to teen, I often heard one name repeated over the years among the grown-ups – Miss Pearl.
Miss Pearl was a daunting, old woman with hair the color of fresh garlic, coiled into a tight bun. I don’t remember much about her other than she rarely smiled. And as a little girl I figured she was obviously the boss of everybody. It seemed like I often overheard women say, “Well, I don’t know. We’ll have to ask, Miss Pearl.”
Well, Miss Pearl eventually died. And as a young adult, I discovered that one had to go to “the committee chairperson” for permission to accomplish anything beyond the ordinary. In retrospect, I can see that when a church is run by committees, they can be fatal to spiritual growth.
Then I attended a church that was run primarily by one man. I learned the hard way how much power he wielded behind the scenes. No one wanted to cross him for fear of damaging the façade of spiritual success that he had created.
The place of worship where I now find solace is an amazing entity. Due to my unpredictable fibromyalgia flare-ups, I’m not able to make long-term commitments, so I primarily observe from the sidelines and chime in when help is needed with community service projects and such. I’m not aware of how they run things in the upper echelons of authority, but they actively draw in new believers and nurture them in the faith.
There have been times in my life when I’ve experienced extreme bitterness and even rage over this and that within Christ’s body. But one thing I will absolutely attest to: No matter what’s going on or who’s involved or the reasons how and why things are happening as they are within a church, there are always sincere, godly people doing everything they can to keep the boat afloat and try not to rock it. And they will open their homes and hearts to strangers, no matter what … God love ‘em!
I enjoy reading about “the great multitude that no one can count … standing before the throne in front of the Lamb” described by John in Revelation 7. The “elder” with whom John is talking confirms that these folks have come out of the great tribulation. The white robes that they’re wearing are not spotless because of Oxyclean. They have been washed in the sacrificial blood of the Lamb for the removal of sin!
That tells me to expect rough times ahead before I make it to the Promised Land in heaven. My Tour Guide has assured me that the journey will be challenging “even to the point of death” so that I can be worthy of “the crown of life” (Revelation 2:10). But after I get there, the Lamb at the center of the throne will be my shepherd, and never again will I hunger or thirst. He will lead me to springs of living water, and he’ll wipe away my tears (Revelation 7:16-17).
And I’m convinced that the many relationships that became tattered or ripped apart here on earth will be mended.
“If it is possible,
as far as it depends on you,
live at peace with everyone.”
A RUST REMOVER …
Make a list of all the people you can think of who have hurt you in some way. Hold it over the kitchen sink and set it on fire. Jesus said, “If you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (Matthew 6:14-15)