If you are in church leadership, it’s possible in some conference or workshop you’ve been asked this question: “If your church closed its doors, what would the community lose?” Another way to word it, “Would anyone notice if your doors closed?”
Someone at my church recently shared they’d heard this for the first time. They responded like we probably all did the first time we were asked: Thoughtful, Challenged, Evaluating.
Last week I shared that question with someone else, but for a different reason. A comment had been made about my role at the church, to which I made a twisted connection with this question.
What if this question dropped from the corporate level to a personal level and every church member and staff member asked, “If I walked away from this church, what would be lost?” Another way to word it, “Would anyone notice if I stopped bringing what I’m currently bringing to the table?”
Now that’s completely different. But what would happen if every child of God thought more about what they bring versus what they receive? What would happen in the community if believers said, “I’m here. I’m for you. I’m bringing what I got to the table. I’m not going anywhere. How can I help?”
I’m finding the best part of Bevere’s book is the 30-day devotional guide at the back. He directs you to read a portion of a chapter, then leads you through a short, relatable devotional, very practical and forward moving in dealing with offense.
Day 11 entitled Hiding from Reality has this quote:
Offense blocks spiritual growth, but suffering and obedience take us to a deeper relationship with the Lord and with others.
This quote aligns well with the one I posted about on August 4: “If you stay free from offense, you will stay in the will of God.” Staying clear of offense isn’t only freeing; it also allows growth to continue. The truth is we grow from suffering (Joseph, Esther, Daniel, Peter, Elijah). What the enemy baits us to do is run from the suffering, or at least be distracted from the growth by focusing on the hurt or the ones guilty of causing it.
It’s quite possible that God has allowed the enemy to shower us with suffering. Think Job. Satan thought he could break him. Satan was wrong. The end result was Job’s deeper trust in God.
So how does our obedience play out in these moments? It could be that we…
- …stay instead of run
- …face instead of ignore
- …wait instead of hurry
- …listen instead of ramble
- …submit instead of control
- …rest instead of worry
If you’ve been feeling stunted or blocked in your spiritual growth, maybe it’s time to check your obedience, time to give up the bait.
About 24 hours ago I saw something beautiful. At the moment I didn’t recognize it for its beauty, but God did.
The outward portrayal on this human’s face may have been interrupted as sadness, maybe pain, or possibly frustration. Even though my mind told me that’s what it was, it didn’t sound, taste, or appear like any of those things. None of those words described what was on the inside. The outside doesn’t always portray the inside.
God sees the inside. What looks outwardly wrecked to me may look inwardly beautiful to him. Brokenness can be beautiful. In fact, it just may be the ideal image he longs for. It took me a full day to come to the right word describing what the outward appearance was revealing about the inward condition: broken. And it was beautiful. Unexpected. Attractive.
When David wrote Psalm 51, he was in pain, tremendous sorrow, and recently aware it was his own doing. No human knew what to do for him. So he turned his heart again to God. He wrote that God was pleased with his brokenness and humility. God saw something beautiful.
Our brokenness doesn’t have to be tragic, destructive, or separating. Anything but. Our brokenness can be refreshing, reenergizing, and even breathtakingly beautiful. It’s possible when others see you sad or in pain, you can echo David to pray, “Lord, open my lips (even in my brokenness), and my mouth will declare your praise (even when I’m broken).”
This is one of those books that you could read many times and grow each time. This being my first read, I’m already seeing growth.
Here’s a quote that stuck out to me today:
If you stay free from offense, you will stay in the will of God.
Offense is easy to create and to receive. Bevere declares it’s a trap, the bait of Satan. When we take the bait, we are in for some rough going. Been there, done that.
This quote makes something clear-where we stay has much to do with our freedom and peace, our relationship with God and others. Where we stay is entirely up to us. If we choose to stay close to God, we will choose to stay free from offense. If we choose to stay offended, we choose to not stay, to distance ourself, to walk away from God and what he’s working in and for us.
Simply put, here’s a new mantra based on this quote: I’d rather be a “stayer” with God than a “walker” from God. In allowing God to search my heart, it’s clear I have an offense that requires a better choice. Time to give up the bait.
You taken the bait? Ready to give it up?
We don’t understand what it means for something to be “sacred.” We live in a human-centered world among people who see themselves as the highest authority. We are quick to say things like “That isn’t fair!” because we believe we deserve certain rights as humans. Yet we give little thought to the rights God deserves as God. Even in the Church we can act as though God’s actions should revolve around us. The stories in Scripture are meant to show us that there exists something of greater value than our existence and rights. There are things that belong to God. Sacred things. His ark of the covenant, His command to Moses, His oﬀerings in the temple, His Holy Spirit, His Holy Communion, His sacred Church. In all the above situations, people rushed into something sacred and paid the price. We shouldn’t be surprised; we should be humbled. We have all done things more irreverent than those mentioned above. Let’s thank God for His mercy and tread more carefully into sacred matters.
This excerpt is from Day 1 of a @youversion devotional plan by Francis Chan entitled Letters to the Church. I agree we have lost the understanding of something being sacred according to what God calls sacred. In addition, we often make things sacred without affirming with God whether they should be.
I’m guilty of saying or agreeing “That’s not Fair” about something God didn’t label sacred. I’ve set up my own sacred pillar similar to what is mentioned several times in the Old Testament. And I’ve paid the price for rushing in to the sacred as well as exalting the unsacred.
So how does this play out for us? A pretty clear example is in our relationships. We can rush a very sacred relationship (parent/child, current/future spouse) and destroy it by dismissing God’s role in it to force our wants in it. We can also make a relationship sacred that has no place being elevated to that position, particularly if we make it more sacred than our relationship with our Creator and Savior.
Chan has made me think. Where might I have mislabeled something as sacred? What God-ordained sacred things have I selfishly lowered their value?