(Note: This is a repost from 2013, but something I have been thinking about lately. I decided it might bear repeating!)
It seems within the church that people have a mindset that church folk should be above reproach and that we should never be hurt by others within the church. I think this must be the mindset anyway because I have encountered many people who were shocked that someone didn't meet their expectations or that someone had hurt their feelings. It was almost a, "How dare they treat me like that?", way of thinking.
The question I have been pondering this morning is actually, "Why not? Why shouldn't I expect to be hurt by church people?" The reality is that they are just people...infallible, human, sometimes self-protecting, jacked up (to quote my husband), apt to make mistakes kind of people. I should never expect perfection in someone else when I can't live up to that standard myself.
I do realize there is the odd person who is just way out there and is totally self-consumed. They give little thought for others and trample people wherever they go. People like this, in my experience, are rare, though. Most of us really do want to honour the Lord, but we will make mistakes.
One of my favourite quotes is, "Expectations are premeditated resentments of the heart." The first time I heard it it stopped me in my tracks. Let's break it down...
Expectations ~ the act or state of looking forward to or anticipating something
Premeditated ~ characterized by fully conscious willful intent and a measure of forethought and planning
Resentments ~ a feeling of indignant displeasure or persistent ill will at something regarded as a wrong, insult or injury
So if we put it all together now it looks something like this...
When I look forward to or anticipate that someone is going to willfully and with a measure of forethought and planning do something that I do not like or agree with then I am going to feel indignant displeasure or persistent ill will toward what I see as an insult or wrong committed against me.
You know what's crazy about all this? Often times the offender has no clue and is rather oblivious to the fact that anything has even happened. The only indication is a cold shoulder or hearing that we have taken our toys and gone to another playground. And we wonder why people look at the church and want no part of it!!!
When are we going to grow up and realize it's not all about us? When are we going to extend grace as an overflow of the overwhelming grace that has been extended to us through a Savior? When are we going to learn to give others the benefit of the doubt or at least have the decency to talk to them and hear their heart? Instead, in this day of social media insanity, we de-friend or block someone on FB and think, "Good riddance!"Instead of practicing the act of forgiveness, we make people pay by dirtying their reputation and seeing how many people we can take to the new playground with us. People are dying and going to hell and we are spending all our time trying to find as many people as we can to be sympathetic to our cause which is essentially...ourselves.
What would happen if we grew up? What would happen if we realized the Body is just that...a living organism made up of many parts with different roles and giftings. What would happen if we viewed other churches as partners instead of the competition? When a friend of ours was killed (a year ago yesterday, in fact), our church went and ministered to the body of believers which our friend had been a part of. We fixed food and fed family members, we parked cars and prayed for the grieving. One of the men from the funeral home stopped my husband and asked him if our 2 churches had a "partnership" because he had never seen anything quite like what he had seen that day.
Isn't that a crazy question? Isn't the fact that it had to be asked even crazier? Why does that have to be so unusual? Why don't we see ourselves as a huge body of believers who minister to each other anywhere and everywhere instead of our own little entities, as if we are the only ones who have figured out how to get it right? You know what I know? I know if we ever have a crisis in our church family that this church will be by our side.
Let's keep our eye on the goal and not allow the enemy to trip us up as we near the finish line. Let's extend grace and forgiveness and actually live out what we are called to do. Let's quit trying to insulate ourselves and protect ourselves so we can't possibly be wounded by anyone. Let's get out there and remember that Jesus CHOSE Judas as a disciple even though He knew how it would all end up!! Let's be intentional and inclusive and let's just learn to grow up and quit acting like 3yo children instead of people maturing because of the work of Christ going on inside us.
Lord, may we be a pleasing fragrance to You as we go about our days. May we learn to look to You and obey You instead of looking to our own self-interests and needs. Please help us view the Body as as an inclusive fellowship, not an exclusive club, full of people who are "for" us and aren't "against" us. Lord, would we talk to You and listen to You and then be willing to do whatever it is You show us out of a heart of love and devotion to You! Amen!
P.S. I do want to add that this is in no way an area in which I think I have "arrived"!!! I am "preaching" to myself more than anything because choosing not to be offended is a discipline I still have to work at every single day!!!