The filter, the lens, the handle, the glove, the distance.

One of the things that I think hurt the church quite often is either the distance or filter that we either have or don’t have or acknowledge between ourselves.

When a congregation comes together, everyone comes with a need. One comes to seek the mother they never had. Another comes to seek the father they never had. Another, the son they never had. Another, the sibling they never had. Another, the spouse they wish they had, and so one.

Each person naturally seeks to feed on another to fill a void they feel in their spirit. To make matters worse, the leaders often volunteer themselves to fill such voids believing such task to have been their calling from God.

Fulfilling a natural void is nothing new of a task. Christ on the cross gave John to his earthly mother to care for and his mother to John to care for naturally.

As it concerns the church altogether, the issue at times is when we not only become dependent of one another, but also highly judgmental of one another as not one loved by God, but one failing to meet our own set of expectations.

I don’t know of any church member, including myself, who either hasn’t suffered at the cost of others’ expectations or cause others to suffer at the cost of his own set of expectations of them.

Whenever we find ourselves dictating the life of another, we’re ungracefully playing God without much understanding of who the person is and who God is to that person. Others believe this is a great benefit and that such should be imposed over them. Yet, when failures come, they blame no one else but their dictators.

There has to be distance, respectful distance, respectful to the fact that Christ is our filter linking us together, helping us understand each other. Whenever we start going over the line, whenever we try to go over the filter with the belief that we can have it raw, or the belief that there shouldn’t be any filter between the both of us, we suddenly start hurting each other. Information that is highly personal and confidential starts leaking to the detriment of the person being slandered.

As Christians, how close are we to each other? Christ is the distance. The goal of our Christian relationship is not for any one of us to seek and know the personal ongoings in each other’s lives with the intent to sow unfounded judgments. The goal of our Christian relationship is to gracefully help each other with keeping our eyes on Christ Jesus as much as we can and as much as it’s being appreciated.

I understand how it feels when we believe that we know all the in’s and out’s of a person’s life, feeling like we’ve become very close to such a person. Yet, the closeness we’ve been handed by God is that which the blood of Christ has established between us and God. Such closeness is Christ himself.

We shouldn’t be investing our attention at knowing the finance portfolio of another. We shouldn’t be investing our attention at seeking to know how many of our opinions that one person agrees with. We shouldn’t be seeking to advise anyone on anything of personal nature without invitation.

We gather to celebrate Christ, not to prove to one another whom we appreciate more than others.

As someone who shares many relationships, I can be or seem picky or dictating at time. But as soon as I realize that I’m being such, I quickly relinquish myself from such role because it can either be or seem very controlling to the person in the relationship. Even when others prefer that I lead, by grace I make sure that I’m not dictating but teaching.

If every time the church gathers no one knows anything much about one another other than saved by Christ, we would appreciate the presence of everyone equally, without much partiality.

Every relationship needs a filter. To the church, Christ is our filter. To the world, the love of God is our lens. Christ is the embodied love of God.

Without such filter, we will see things we were not supposed to see. Without such filter, we will hear things we were not supposed to hear. Without such filter, we will see and hear but not fully understand.

Christ was never much interested in the personal lives of his disciples. He was interested in bringing them to the full knowledge of God, not what they ate for dinner or lunch, not how much taxes they collected, not how much money they made fishing. He loved them unconditionally.

Let’s see ourselves, let’s see each other as not who we seem to be, but who we truly are: loved by God.

As Christ made it plain to those who early on believed in his cause,

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35)

Christ is the filter. Christ is the lens. Christ is the glove. Christ is the handle. Christ is the distance.

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