I don't get sick very often. Less often than I have accidents.
Yesterday evening I was on death's door. I put on my big black down coat and my Mukluks, curled up into a ball on the recliner chair and shivered. Roxanne would say I shivered and moaned (I hardly moaned). And that I coughed without properly covering my cough. ("I hate to nag. I don't often nag, do I? (she doesn't) but here is how you should cover your cough." (And she showed me how to put my mouth up to the sleeve of my shirt on the opposite side of my elbow.))
Today I am not better, but I did take off my Mukluks
Some kind of virus has hit our little local church fellowship. It seems like every other week another family is leaving. Nobody is mad or resentful, they just leave. And some of these people have been with us for decades.
Some have reasons. "I just can't go to a church where women wear the head covering. "At our church some do, some don't," I tell her. "But it's not for this age," she said. "But it is in the Scriptures," I say, "And if some women choose to wear the head covering out of their own convictions, should they be forbidden to do so?" "It makes other women feel uncomfortable," she said. "Scripture tells us to bear with one another," I entreat. But she's made up her mind, and she is taking her husband with her.
Some feel the Lord's leading. "There just isn't the enthusiasm at this place that there should be. I really feel I need to be some place where I can sense the Spirit of God."
Some are concerned with pretending there is no difference between each other because they snowmobile and others cross country ski.
No hard feelings. God forbid there be hard feelings. Some of the people who have left still call most days. We still get invited to all their special occasions.
I had a friend ask me if I'd been beaten up by my church. "It always happens," he said. He's left half a dozen churches in his adulthood. Each time he starts a new church, he puts himself to work. The people there can't believe their good fortune having such a vibrant, intelligent, spiritual person come to their church. He is a very good man. But the last time I talked to him, he's wondering if there is a place where he could better use his gifts.
Amazingly, our church has not been hit by the heresy bug. None of our "sheep protectors" have circled the wagons when they might have noticed something someone has said didn't sound quite right. Calvinism is the bug-a-boo now. Godless beat in the songs sung remains an urgent concern. Women splitting up for prayer, what a disunity!
I knew a church that actually did have heresy. A couple of the men were insisting that Jesus was a created being, and thus of less authority than the Father. These men were removed from teaching and from leadership. Curiously, I believe, both of these men continued to remain a part of this church.
My wife often explains bad things as part of Satan's attacks. Sometimes I think she is too quick to blame Satan for our own bad inclinations or simply the difficult circumstances of life. But I do wonder if this very tenuous relationship that Christians have with their church nowadays is directly connected to Satan's wiles. II Cor 2: 11 "So that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs." The context of this verse is forgiving.
Even with the congenial splits that keep happening in our church, I wonder if lack of forgiveness is not at the heart of it. I wonder if different ones have taken offense for a plethora of reasons.
As the rock-n-roll song shouts over and over again, "GET OVER IT!"
As the writer of Hebrews says, "See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God, that no root of bitterness springs up and causes trouble."
Here's what I think. So many of our churches are disintegrating because too many of us are too sensitive. We remember an offense and then when that same person offends us again, the effect of the offense multiplies. In a very short time, we are not going to take it any more. And we leave.
Satan capitalizes on this. Again and again he brings to our minds the offenses.
Our protection is replacing the offensive rememberances with strategies of kindness. What can I do to make the person who offended me a more joyful, happy Believer?
My day job is the marketing/public relations person for a company. I've had to learn certain techniques. When someone says something critical, I first consider if there is some legitimacy in what they said. If so, I tell them that this is something that does need to be addressed and, often, ask for their suggestions. If I do not find the criticism legitimate, I change the subject. Then, in the course of the conversation, I figure out something I can say to them to make them feel good about themselves. I do this for a paycheck. If I don't do this, sooner or later I'm going to be looking for someone else, another company, who will employ me, which is a whole lot harder than looking to find another church that will have me as part of their fellowship.
The Lord's church is a whole lot more important than any temporary paycheck. Do we really dare to treat what belongs to our Savior with such touchiness, such fickleness?
The root of bitterness. It's a virus. It needs to be gotten rid of. In our bodies a virus makes us feel rotten so there is a lot of incentive to give it our full attention. And besides, a virus that is not eliminated can kill a person, or a church.