Dear Grace Family,
I introduced y’all to Dennis Johnson’s book The Message of Acts: in the History of Redemption before we began our study in the book of Acts. Let’s read some of his thoughts on the church and see how they hit us… “We were made to live together, with each other and with our God. Of course, if you pack sinful, selfish people together in close quarters, the pressure intensifies the destructive tendencies of their fallenness, sometimes to explosive dimensions. But when God packs his city with people who are purified by the Spirit, the crowds will gather in peace and praise. The church is to be a present foretaste of that future heavenly, holy community. To be honest, however, sometimes the church makes us long for the wide-open spaces. It’s one thing to sing “I love thy church, O God” or “I love this family of God,” and quite another to bear with an abrasive member of God’s family. Didn’t the hermits of earlier ages have the right idea in pursuing holiness through solitude? Doesn’t godliness grow best “far from the madding crowd,” undistracted by the aggravating interference of flawed people? But God says, in effect, “You grow into the image of my Son only as you grow together.” (Eph. 4:12-16)” This really got my wheels turning. The hermit life would be so much easier. Yet, it would be fundamentally antithetical to the Bible’s portrait of what the Church of Jesus Christ is at her core. I wish, at times, that the words, “for better, for worse, till death do us part” were not only part of our marriage vows, but also part of our membership vows. How many of us do you think would still take our membership vows, if it included that language? Or at the very least, how much more thoughtfulness and prayer would go into making the decision to take such a vow? Every time we drive onto the property that houses the building of Grace Presbyterian Church and every time we meet throughout
town, we will either exude the “sinful, selfish” from the above paragraph or the “peace and praise.” Now, we aren’t in heaven yet so this will always be a mixed bag for us. However, I want us to have the mindset of, what “smell” am I bringing with me when I meet with the people of Grace? I can promise you this, “sinful and selfish” will come MUCH more naturally to us than “peace and praise.” We all have bad days and sometimes the best we can bring is our sin and selfishness. On those days, we’ll let the bride of Christ do her thing and trust that one’s sin and selfishness will be met with another’s peace and praise. But in general, let’s be aware of how we “smell” when we interact with each other. We need to be committed to building up, not tearing down, and the above is God’s design to do just that. Give this some thought. See y’all Sunday!