Earlier this week I had this thought in the above picture. Call it inspiration, perspiration, desperation, or exasperation–I simply could not shake this thought. So I made me a jpg and posted in on my FB page hoping it would go away. And I still cannot shake this thought. So here this left-handed, right-brained Kingdom Pastor goes again with these unusual musings. By the way, I am glad to have unusual thoughts such as these. I admit I am not normal and so very glad. I tried to be normal once and it became the worst 3 minutes of my life. If you want to really insult me and gut-punch me, call me normal! But alas, I digress again; forgiveness please.
Recently someone said something to me that I have heard many times. “Preacher,” (amazing, I have a title, but not a name; thankfully God knows my name), “if we could just be like the very first churches then we wouldn’t be having all these problems at church.” Some think I have absolutely no self-control, but when I hear these words, I have an amazing amount of self-control. I fight with every resource inside me to resist tilting my head to the left with that expression that says, “Don’t you read your Bible?” I have to resist the urge to go back to my firefighter days and pull out my smart phone, bring up my flashlight app and shine it in their eyes to see if they have some kind of head trauma, the kind of head trauma that comes from falling out of the stupid tree and hitting the branches on the way down.
Whenever and wherever I am driving or riding, I love to look at church signs. No, not the messages they put on them only, but to see what name was selected for that church. One of my favorites is “The Original Church of God #2”. Another was “An Independent, Fundamental, Bible Believing, Charismatic Baptist Church” (did they miss anything important?). How about “The Church of God Sanctified, Incorporated”? And I’ve seen in nearly every community there is a church named “Corinth”. Do you really want your church named after a group that had divided loyalties, a member involved in an incestuous relationship, who had members show up early for the Agape feast so they could eat all the best foods and get drunk, and who had members who thought they were spiritually better simply because they had one particular spiritual gift (I could go on but I won’t)?
But church problems go back even further, all the back to Jerusalem where the church originated. We read in Acts 6:1-4 (The Message)
1-4 During this time, as the disciples were increasing in numbers by leaps and bounds, hard feelings developed among the Greek-speaking believers—“Hellenists”—toward the Hebrew-speaking believers because their widows were being discriminated against in the daily food lines. So the Twelve called a meeting of the disciples. They said, “It wouldn’t be right for us to abandon our responsibilities for preaching and teaching the Word of God to help with the care of the poor. So, friends, choose seven men from among you whom everyone trusts, men full of the Holy Spirit and good sense, and we’ll assign them this task. Meanwhile, we’ll stick to our assigned tasks of prayer and speaking God’s Word.”
Oh? So, the early church had its problems? What many fail to recognize, and what I failed to recognize for too long in my life, is that problems not only exist, but they speak volumes about where we are spiritually in our relationship with God, or even if such a relationship exists at all. Ever since Adam said and did nothing when the serpent was tempting Eve, problems have existed in the realm of human relationships; be they community, neighborhood, friends, family and even church. And here is something I have learned: having problems is not, in and of themselves, a bad thing though we often treat them that way. It is in how we respond to problems that is either the great thing or a bad thing.
How we respond to the problems that happen in life will be one of these 3 responses. If you are just an average person you will talk about problems the way you talk about the weather, college football and politics. Problems are simply a subject matter to talk about while occupying time. If you are a petty person (meaning small-minded) then it behooves you to find a person who you feel like must have caused the problem. Then you attack and belittle that person as if that alone will make the problem go away. Usually their only achievement is just getting that person to go away; the problem is still there but with that person gone it’s easy to assume that the problem will cease to be a problem. Where’s my flashlight? They must have serious head trauma!
Or, we could follow the example of these early leaders. They didn’t blame the Greek Jews for being a bunch of cry babies. They didn’t blame the Hebrew Jews for being selfish bigots. They sought the path of greatness. They became great people because they focused on the solution instead of being locked in on the problem. Every problem in the realm of relationships has a solution that both honors God and helps build up others. Pointing your crooked finger at a person to blame or talking to others Ad Nauseum never works. To your average people who only talk about the problems, you are fueling the petty, small-minded people and you simply need to stop it! Be a great person instead!
Greatness does exist in you and in every other person. You can go ahead and be wrong by disagreeing with me. You may even have some good arguments why greatness does not exist in certain people, or maybe even you. Again, feel free to be wrong. Here is why I say greatness exists in you and in every other person: We Are Made In And Bear Within The Image Of God. Granted, it may be crusted over by years of sin and gazillions of bad choices, but it is still there. It may have been crushed beneath the blows of petty people.
But greatness is there simply waiting to be released through redemption. Redemption is more than being forgiven of our sins. It is about restoring The Image of God in you and me, being set back right to where God intends for us to be all along. Forget what others say about you. Ignore your own thoughts about yourself. Listen to what Papa said as He added the crowning touch to His creation. At the end of every day of creation up to that point, Papa looked at it and said, “Oh, my, this is good.” But on that last day He said, “Let’s make humanity, and make them in Our image.” So they did, and when they were finished, Papa stepped back and said something different from the other 5 days. He said, “My, oh, my! Now this, this is very good.”
Jesus suffered unimaginable pain and humiliation. Jesus went to the Cross and died. He was carried to a borrowed tomb because He wasn’t going to be there very long. (You average people and Pointed-Crooked-Finger people pay attention.) Jesus did all this so that your sins and past would be wiped away in order that HIS Image can be restored in you, and even in me.
Love God with all your heart. Love others the way Jesus loves you. And make sure all the glory goes to Him, by becoming great!
My name is Randy…and I’m a recovering “Average”…