If the church is considered a hospital where the sick comes to be comforted and healed both naturally and spiritually, you can almost agree there’s no better place to be.
Yet, I’ve yet to meet a patient or a doctor or a nurse or an aide or a janitor who wants to reside at a hospital or any other place of health-care where they either work or seek help with their health.
Among many other things that can turn people off easily when visiting a church, a congregation, are the dramas. As a result, congregations go to extreme measures in trying to keep a lid on all the ongoing dramas, in the hope that they would not be known to serve as distractions against the main message they’re trying to share with the visitors.
If you knew ahead of time the ailments of the patients seeking care at the hospital, would you think twice of reaching the hospital for either help or to render service yourself?
The dream of a handful of congregation leaders is to have almost zero ailing patient in their care. It’s a natural dream. This is probably the root cause of not feeling so well when an ailing patient comes along, hoping he didn’t have to deal with such patient. Again, it’s a natural dream of mostly anyone in leadership role hoping to not see the boat rocked. For those who love the practice of Medicine, every challenging patient sometimes seem an exciting opportunity to put their skills at work.
It’s very possible to become ill with the same sickness or set of weaknesses of a congregation if we don’t acknowledge them to be such. It’s very possible to become ill ourselves not by the same weaknesses of a congregation, but by our fear of such weaknesses.
I always think about health care workers and people in general. We often hear how some diseases are highly contagious and yet we walk around in the presence of others not knowing what illness they carry in their body. Sometimes, the carriers do not even know themselves of how sick they are.
We hear of protocols maintained by health institutions to mitigate the risk of the spreading of a disease. Yet, a good number of those protocols can only be put into effect after coming to awareness of a patient with the highly contagious disease. Isolation, quarantine, whatever we call it, someone still has to help that patient in whatever possible capacity.
The many struggles and fights and dissents many churches experience are due to a lack of understanding of what a church is and who is in charge of the church.
The church has both natural and spiritual needs. Yet, there’s this common misconception that the natural needs are maintained by man’s efforts and that the Spiritual is maintained by the Holy Spirit. The truth is that both needs are maintained by the Holy Spirit, and regenerated mankind is to be instrumental in the servicing of both needs by the Holy Spirit.
We can possess all the bread we want to possess. Yet, if we’re only seeing those before us by ranks, we will be partial in any piece of bread we wish to hand out.
This common issue of today is very reflective of the following issue recorded in the book of Acts by Luke,
“In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Hellenistic Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.”
“This proposal pleased the whole group. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism. They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them.
“So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith.””( Acts 6:1-7)
Some folks wouldn’t come to you for help simply because of their opinion of you, just as much you wouldn’t knock on their door because of your opinion of them.
In 2 Corinthians 5:16, Paul made this declaration
“So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view.”
To me, a worldly point of view simply means the natural eyes, the natural understanding of people. It’s hard for anyone not to show partiality to those in authority over the homeless. There is a natural pull that says you need to serve those of higher rank, higher position, higher preference, before any other. Even the crowd you’re serving would want you to do as such. Yet, the healthiest perspective to have of anybody, any man or woman, is one who is loved by God through Christ. Any other consideration is a path for stumbling. Hence, we stumble very often as we try to satisfy our natural impulses while ignoring the love that God has shown to us in Christ.
For as much as we would like to consider every one equal, our natural conscience says that’s not going to happen. And it is only the gospel of grace that daily pulls us back to who we are, not in God’s opinion, but in God’s full knowledge of us embodied in Christ Jesus.
Paul, an ancestor of the faith, had this to share to a good friend of his,
“Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone.
“At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.
“But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless. Warn a divisive person once, and then warn them a second time. After that, have nothing to do with them. You may be sure that such people are warped and sinful; they are self-condemned.”” (Titus 3:1-11)
Who we are, who we were, where we were, how we got to where we are, and why we are where we are.
Saved by God in Christ Jesus through the Holy Spirit to do good.
Blessed is Jesus. Blessed is His work. Blessed is God’s love. Blessed is the Presence of the Holy Spirit in us. Blessed are we in Christ. Amen.
By the grace of God through Christ Jesus manifested by His Spirit within us, that’s who we are. And there’s no other perspective that can surmount what God knows of us.