Letting Go and Letting God (finally?)

11 12 2005

Letting Go and Letting God (finally?)

Scripture:
Philemon 1:8 (NIV)  8Therefore, although in Christ I could be bold and order you to do what you ought to do, 9yet I appeal to you on the basis of love.

Hebrews 3:15 (NIV) 15As has just been said: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion.”

Hebrews 4:12-13 (NIV) 12For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. 13Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

Observations:
I’ve really been wrestling with the concept of discipleship vs. membership.  In the membership model, we require people to conform to certain standards in order to worship with us.  But in the discipleship model, we accept anyone who is willing to seek Christ and move forward – even if their seeking is not 100%.

So, what does this look like?  How will we look to the outside world?  Will we still look like a church?  Will we attract people that are broken, busted, and bonkers?  Or, will we look all clean and shiny to the outward observer?

Recently the family of some of our people came to our worship service.  Their comments afterwards were telling.  They told their daughter (paraphrased), “You are just about ready to leave the church.  These people are so far away from the standard.  You can’t keep going to that church.”

The fact of the matter is this lady has all but given up on church and it is only  in the last month or so that she has felt comfortable in church.  It is only the last few weeks that she has looked forward to church.  And it is only in the last few weeks that she has felt drawn to worship with other believers.

We say, we are a place for those who have given up on church, but are still seeking God.  We’ve said that for several years, but it is only in the last few months that I’ve started to understand what that means.

So, yesterday, we had about 75 people at our worship service.  There were single moms, couples who live together, smokers, drinkers, recovering addicts, and recovering Pharisees.  We have people who are seeking God on various levels.  Some are content to attend church once a week (or so), some are content to look good on the outside, some are dancing around a deeper commitment, and some tell me they’ve never experienced God like they are today.

The texts above are telling.  It isn’t my job to order people to change – or to seek to control them.  In fact, it is the individuals role to listen to God’s voice and to obey Him – to not harden their hearts.

The Word of God is what penetrates their soul.  This is what will change people.  So, if we lift up the Word, people will grow, be transformed, and be drawn to Him.  But, sadly, some will reject the Truth and will move away from Him.

Application:
My role is not to control.  My role is to live a Godly life as a seeker of truth.  My role is to lift up Jesus and allow all people to be drawn to Him.  To be invitational.

Prayer:
Dear Lord, this scares me because it is harder.  I have fewer metrics by which to assess where people are.  I have to pray more, build better relationships, and allow more weakness, failure, and slippage in the congregation.  Yikes!

It is much easier to bring everyone to a certain standard and keep that set of standards.  We will get less flack, more support, and less messiness in the congregation.  Messiness is hard.  Standards are easy.

My life has to be so connected with You that I am not swayed by the weakness.  Instead I will be drawn to You and more like you everyday.  Because of this, people will see you and not me.  I must fully (FULLY!) die to myself and let you live in me.

This is hard God.  Teach me how to do this!  Teach me God – Teach me!  Draw me close to You and change me.

I love you too Lord!

gw

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