We must not expect all believers in Christ to be exactly like one another. We must not set down others as having no grace, because their experience does not entirely tally with our own. The sheep in the Lord’s flock have each their own peculiarities. The trees in the Lord’s garden are not all precisely alike…. There will be Martha’s and there will be Mary’s in the Church until the Lord comes again.~ J.C. Ryle via JC Ryle Quotes
I wouldn’t have chosen to hang out with most of the people in my church.
And they probably wouldn’t have wanted to hang out with me.
Before Jesus saved me I only hung out with cool people like me (I was very cool in my own eyes). People who liked the Beatles and Bachman Turner Overdrive and Yes. But after Jesus apprehended me I found myself hanging out with old people and ditch diggers and people who could read music and people who laughed at their own jokes that weren’t funny (actually I do that).
Our churches are conglomerations of sinners the Lord has saved and put together for the display of his glory. Most of us wouldn’t have chosen to be together if it had been up to us. We’re Martha’s and Mary’s. Athletes and artists. Teachers and truck drivers. We wouldn’t have hung out together before Jesus saved us. Sometimes I think, “Lord, what were you thinking when you stuck us together?”
But Jesus wouldn’t receive as much glory if we were all alike.
He displays his glory when those who wouldn’t naturally choose to be together love and serve one another. When they prefer and honor and look to the interests of those who aren’t like themselves. When they forgive each other and work through their conflicts.
God receives glory when diverse folks have the affection of Christ for each other. When those who have less are happy for those God gives more. When those who’d normally avoid difficult people embrace them and receive them.
Jesus said the sign we’re truly disciples is love for one another. Let’s work and pray and do all we can to allow not a single breach in our relationships. Is there anyone in your church you don’t like or don’t want to be around? Anyone you wouldn’t want to sit with at a picnic or wedding reception? Anyone you wouldn’t want to have coffee with? Pray that God will give you the affection of Christ for them. Go to them next Sunday and ask how they’re doing. Pray for them.
I want people who come to our church to say, “See how they love one another – I want in on this.” As a pastor, there are few things I desire more than that we’d abound and overflow in love. I don’t care if we have a cool building or the best worship team or the best coffee bar. I care about our relationships. (Let’s love one another AT the best coffee bar).
Sometimes, as pastor, I almost feel like the dad of a big family. It grieves me when any of the “kids” aren’t getting along. I really can’t stand it when there are relational breaches. And nothing brings me more joy than seeing the family loving and working things out together.
Anyone come to your mind as you read this?
Anyone you need to forgive, go to, work things out with? If so, determine to take care of it quickly. Go out for coffee with them. Have them over. Go to them next Sunday and see how they’re doing.
Jesus is saving people from every tribe, tongue, race and culture. Computer geeks and bikers. Drama majors and football players. Opera lovers (yes there is grace to love them – JUST KIDDING) and country music lovers. People with accents unlike ours. People who don’t look like us. Or smell like us. Or think the same things are funny we do. People with problems and quirks and needs and sins. People we wouldn’t choose to be with.
Do you have any stories of diverse folks loving each other? Any stories of how God has moved you to love someone unlike you?