This post makes more sense if you take into account that the name of this blog used to be, “The Church Agitator.” God moves us to different places as we grow. I’m in a different place now than I was then. There’s a story behind that if you want to read it.
I’m a little conflicted today. I started this blog because I felt like a missionary in my own church, like I had some special word that nobody else could hear. I was angry with a lot of things that were happening… and now I’m deeply suspicious of my own motivation.
Also, my wife and I reached the point where we just could not stay there. Irritation which started in April of 2015 ended with us slowly dropping out of everything at that church, until we were no longer involved in anything. In January 2016, we decided to leave. The words I kept repeating to myself were this: “Church should not be like this. We should not be angry about peripherals when we’re sitting in worship every single week.” We had even started taking Sundays off from that church, just trying to keep our heads cool. In the end, we just couldn’t do it. We probably never should have.
We started going, on our off-Sundays, to a church a friend of ours started about a year ago. They don’t have a building. (I mean, they have a place to meet, just not a place they own.) I really feel like some healing started there. God has opened our eyes to so many new things since we’ve been there, it’s humbling.
We’ve made this thing way too difficult, I think, by sticking around when we should have just left. We haven’t felt any better about things. We have grown, for sure — I believe God creates frustration sometimes just for that purpose — but it was outside of the body we were a part of, like some sort of weed that sprang up and went wild.
Two things I already knew are coming true for me now.
First, Christ established the church for us to be a part of, and by being a part of it, we grow as a body. If you can’t be a part of the body you’re in, get out. By “being a part” I mean building other people up, pouring into their lives.
I’m holding firm on the statements I made early on here, it’s totally necessary to have people who ask tough questions and maybe even cause problems. I don’t think anything significant will ever happen without people like that present. Listen, though, agitators: I’m one of you, and you still need to find a place of peace. I don’t just mean peace in your own mind, I mean peace you make on purpose in all the areas you stirred up. If you see God leading somewhere and nobody will follow you, keep following God. Don’t go it alone. Be somewhere that God’s work can be made great.
I’ve been getting my butt kicked all week with a verse I’m in the midst of memorizing. It’s this one:
“If you are wise and understand the ways of God, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you are bitterly jealous and there is selfish ambition in your heart, don’t cover up the truth with boasting and lying. For jealousy and selfishness are not God’s kind of wisdom. Such things are earthly, unspiritual, and demonic. For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind.” – James 3:13 – 16
I’m just going to leave that there, because I think it needs to sit on its own. It says everything I need to say in my own heart and mind.
Here’s the second thing I know, I already said it:
It’s necessary to have people who ask tough questions and maybe even cause problems. But then there must be peace. It’s pretty simple: we need to live together in harmony. Nobody is going to want to be a part of your church if you’re just arguing all the time. Nobody is going to want to be your friend if you always launch into a tirade about how everything is wrong. (Except maybe nuts like you.) While we’re not doing things to please other people, it is absolutely true that we still need to act in love. This truth and the part of James I’m memorizing is changing my thinking, and I’m going to allow it to change the tone of this blog. Because we’re not here to complain. Yes, we’re here to fix problems when they pop up. But peace and love are more than the things people wrote on t-shirts in the 60s. They are biblical mandates that we grossly underestimate the power of.
Believing that scripture says all it needs to and kicks my butt, I’m going to just close with the rest of James 3, the rest of my current memorization project.
“But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness.” – James 3:17-18