Saturday, April 13, 2013

You can be a church builder!

As I write this little lesson, I am aware that for many...the church is a building.  I want to remind everyone that the body of Christ is the people and not the building.

So often, we look to the leadership to be the ones who provide the tools to build the 'church'.  The pastors preach, the Sunday school teachers teach, the elders and ushers do their jobs and so on.  Yet, we do not need an official nametag to be a church builder.

Anyone can help build up the body of Christ.  I can think of two ways that the church can be torn apart though.  One is a spirit of offense and the other is gossip.

Offense can be taken for almost any reason.  Our imaginations play a part in that we think we know what the other person is thinking.  We become hurt due to feelings of rejection especially if we are prone to feelings of rejection in general.  Learning to relate to others is essential in building up the body of Christ.  As long as there are two people in this world though, we will have two different thoughts and they often clash. 

It is easy to take your thoughts to others and look for someone who is of the same mind as you are.  In children, this is called 'taking sides'.  Of course, as adults we excuse ourselves and just look for someone to 'pray' over the situation.  Really?  The devil has always used the technique of 'divide and conquer' and lead to death of the church.  In contrast, our Lord's ways are relational reconciliation, forgiveness, hope, mercy and this leads to peace, harmony and life.

No one is exempt in this scenario.  If someone comes to you and explains an issue with another, we are to be peace makers.  I always encourage people to go to the one they have an issue with.  I've no wish to be the middle man.  I can pray, or even go with the person ...but it does no good service to the body of Christ if I align myself with an offended person against another person.

Don't even let yourself get dragged into a long conversation that cuts someone else down.  Gossip is another issue where no one is exempt.  The person who speaks it or the person who listens to it are both in the gossip pit.

Taking the issue to the one who offended us seems like a big step.  We shy away from the confrontation.  Yet, that is what the Lord wants us to do.  He tells us in Matthew 18:15  'If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you.  If he listens to you, you have won your brother over.'  verses 16,17 and 18 even tell us what to do if this does not work.  But, before we do anything, the Lord wants us to go to that particular person.

Matthew 5:23 talks about relationships as well.  'Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar.  First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.'

The person who encourages others to do this, is in fact helping to build the church.  We can pray with the person and love them.  Part of loving them is pointing them in the direction of reconciliation.

So often, when people get offended or involved in gossip, their eyes are taken off the Lord and put on themselves. The devil loves this because this will stop the flow of the spirit fast. Suddenly, the offended person isolates himself and hashes and rehashes the issue until it is bigger than ever.  The mountain of offense can take them out of the church all together.

 We can help build the church by gently helping to refocus the eyes where they need to be.  A strong church isn't a church without problems.  A strong church is one who encourages each other to keep their eyes on Christ. 

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