Growing up in a Gospel Movement hurts. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
If you’re new to the blog, I’ve had the privilege of growing up in a community where Jesus-followers and leaders have chosen a lifestyle of unity. I try to capture the stories here. It’s amazing. I love it. But it’s not perfect. Yet.
I had two conversations last week that left me hurt. Both with Christ-followers in our community. Both about other Christ-followers.
“Oh they go to that person’s church,” one spoke with guarded suspicion about a pastor I know and love, because of where he lands on the charismatic spectrum. I could go on and on about the fruit of his life, and the love that abounds at his church.
Another spoke broad generalizations about a huge demographic in the Church. Assumptions ruled beliefs. The past transgressions of others informed those assumptions.
Neither spoke hate, and each spoke out of their convictions according to their interpretation of the Scriptures; but it hurt.
Nothing was personally directed at me, though in a way, perhaps it was.
“Just as a physical body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ…. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.” 1 Corinthians 12:12,26
The Bible compares the Church to a physical body. An injury in a physical body causes muscles to overcompensate and other parts to under-perform, lose sensation, or suffer pain.
If the Jesus-followers in a community really form one body, it’s safe to assume that when one part of the Church hurts, it impacts the rest. If we don’t hurt along with the rest of the Church, I’d question whether we’re really connected – if we are really one body.
The hurt is good. It’s a sign of health. Hurt proves I’m in touch. It proves I’m connected. Hurt reveals I’m joined with the heart of God and sensitive to the grief of the Holy Spirit.
When hurt comes, it proves that our unity is not theory, but rather a very present reality.
Growing up in a Gospel Movement has immersed me in more love than most jobs afford. Though I’m finding that the more love is fostered, the more disunity hurts.
A Hopeful Future Must Inform a Hopeful Now
Growing up in a Gospel Movement leads me to wager that much of our disunity is a hoax. Often false assumptions dictate our interactions with others rather than genuine relationship. If this is true, our disunity is not based on reality.
In most cases, I bet if you really knew them, you’d like them. I bet if you shared your heart in prayer or took a step to celebrate the good God is doing through them, you’d actually really love them.
We all have reasons to criticize the Church.
You may chastise the Church for being too removed from the realm of social justice, or criticize because a church needs “more of the Holy Spirit,” or “more of the word of God.”
Certainly Jesus wants more of all of those things.
We have not arrived yet.
When we survey the Church of our day, we must leave room for maturing, the “being perfected” journey, and true repentance. Have you noticed that Jesus doesn’t reject the lukewarm church in Revelation 3? Instead, He calls to them in love, “be earnest and repent.” He follows it with an invitation to fellowship and authority. Perhaps the great end time Church will come out of a great move of repentance among the lukewarm.
We must adopt Jesus’ attitude toward the Church. He is strong, yet gracious.
Growing up in a Gospel Movement, I’ve found I can’t divorce myself from a part of the Church God accepts. We are all part of Christ’s Church, we all form ONE body.
And just a reminder, you are a part of that Church too.
Perfected Through Unity
We need each other to reach perfection; to become everything Jesus dreams for us to be.
“… so that the body of Christ may be built up, until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ… speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.” (Ephesians 4)
Have you ever considered that? In unity, we can actually grow into everything God desires His Church to be.
As we grow in unity, we are being perfected. As we are being perfected, are unity grows. We can’t have one without the other.
We will all be perfected. And in the meantime, Jesus isn’t giving up on His Church.
A Body that Heals Itself
I’ve seen it time and time again: a leader sharing vulnerably to be comforted by another; a pastor encouraging another who confessed weakness; a friend sharing a burden so others can shoulder it too. It’s in these moments that the body is working to heal itself.
Years back, a secret sin of a prominent community member was exposed, and it set shock waves throughout his friends, family, church and our community.
A few weeks that came to light, the pastors were gathering for their monthly worship and prayer gathering. The senior pastor of the church most affected came. It wasn’t easy for him to come. I doubt he wanted to share his heart in front of 60 some leaders. But he did. And they came around him. This is what authentic unity is made of, not just the easy stuff.
We all felt the hurt during that season. It impacted the whole body, and it required the whole body to heal.
In a Gospel Movement, God uses the body of Christ heals itself; just as in a physical body.
Living in a Gospel Movement, you’re certain to hurt. It’s a sign of health.
I Can’t Miss this Opportunity
As we part ways, you may want to do some soul searching. Is there an assumption about another you need to fact check? Is there a relationship that needs reconciliation? Perhaps there are words you need to correct.
If something comes to mind, I charge you to do something. Your response might just heal the body. Your pursuit of unity might just lead to greater fullness in Christ.
I had an opportunity this week.
This stuff means so much to Jesus.
“Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” 1 Corinthians 12:27