Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: The Church (12/06/07)
TITLE: The Kick of Love
By Dianne Janak
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Complaining comes easy to me, even if I try hard to have an outer appearance of piety. I can smile sweetly, laugh appropriately, and even extend a helping hand when all the while my heart is hurt, angry, and seething that other Christians just are not hitting the mark.
My new church is my testing ground, and so far, I see I failed the test. Instead of being thankful to God for all the wonderful aspects of my new church family, I am comparing them to my former church and find it coming up short. They don’t do communion monthly? What’s wrong with them? They don’t have a paid position for women’s ministry? Why is that not important to them? They have no organized ministry for newcomers? How do they expect us to feel welcome and keep coming back?
I had a list a mile long that was causing me to dream about going somewhere else. You know, find the perfect church. I wanted a place to fill my needs, to be open and accepting of me for who I am, not for who I’m not, a place that does things the “right way”, and appreciates the gift they have that I have come to them now to help them improve their defects. I wanted some kind of proverbial red carpet of honor to punctuate my appearance and show others how blessed they are to have me. I would be really annoyed with me if I were them.
My desire now is to walk in the light as He is in the light. I failed the test. I’m not worthy of God’s attention or grace or forgiveness, and yet He gives it to me anyway.
It was time for me to leave one place and come to a new one. I knew that, my friends at the place I left knew that, and yet here, I doubt again. But I was still looking back, instead of relishing in the moment and enjoying God’s goodness.
Church is not set up for my benefit and comfort. It’s not about me at all. It’s a place to worship Him, to learn about Him, to serve Him. In my anger and discomfort, somewhere along the way, I lost track of that. I was worshiping my ministry, and reveling in the wholeness I felt when others recognized my gifts and appreciated me. Now I sit on the pews in a place no one knows me, and feel sorry for myself, for what I left behind. How sad and despicable my heart can so easily become.
God has shown me my selfish heart, and I am broken in disgust. This church is far more concerned with the lost than with older Christian newcomers, and isn’t that a good thing?
Instead of being critical about what is not here, and what they do not have, why can’t I see what is here and what they do have? A beautiful place to come to worship each week, to hear God’s word preached in a safe atmosphere of love and acceptance, and plenty of opportunities to serve just waiting for my commitment. Why have I been sitting here in judgment wasting God’s precious time?
I think the revelation of my own deficiency that has burned the deepest hole in my soul is remembering how easily I overlooked the newcomers at my last church while looking for my real friends. Seeing someone alone sipping coffee while the rest of us laughed and hugged in our familiar groups would often send a bit of guilt through my heart, but not often enough to stop and leave my comfort zone of familiar friends to go make a new one. How can I judge others for doing the very thing I was guilty of? When was the last time I made room for a new friend, or reached out to another person who was obviously in pain? My own pain and insecurity was screaming at me so loudly I could not hear them.
My time for repentance is over, and the moment has come to get proactive, change my attitude to one of gratitude and see where I can serve God to bless Him and be obedient. This is new day, and He gives me a clean slate.
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