READINGS: II Kings 17, 18; Ephesians 4
As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit…vs 1,2
I LOVE MY CHURCH: Perhaps you have said it or the car I front of you might have had the phrase emblazoned on the back bumper. It may have been used as a promotional statement in some attempt to draw value to the church the passengers attend. I LOVE MY CHURCH
Bill Hybel, pastor of one of the largest churches inAmericahas written and spoken often that “the local church is the hope of the world.” I love that statement. It makes me feel that I belong and am involved in matters that will make an eternal business. And I Am!
“I LOVE MY CHURCH.” The statement has been met with mixed reviews. For one reason or another, many have abandoned the church, pointing out the fact that the church isn’t perfect. Others have found the church to be little more than a social connection. Some claim to have been emotionally hurt and spiritually scarred by the church.
While all of these charges may be true in isolated cases, I find that the church never promised to be a utopia.
Galatians provides a perfect example. The church inGalatiawas begun by none other than the great Apostle Paul. How could the work of Paul be anything but the best! But it wasn’t. Disunity was rampant inGalatia. These unbelievers began to turn away from the generosity of God’s grace to the rigors of the law.
The aforementioned text speaks of humility, gentleness and patience. Evidently, these were qualities that were deficit in the Galatian church. It is interesting that these same words are found in the list that describes the fruit of the Spirit. (Galatians 5:22,23)
“Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit.” The word effort suggests to me that unity does not fall out of heaven upon us at the moment of our coming to faith in Jesus. Unity calls for our being a unit.
My thoughts these days are never far from a friend who lies in a cardiac unity inColumbus,Ohio. Actually Garry Bird is more than a friend; he is a brother-in- law. Garry grew up in a family whose life was centered in the church. Like the rest his family, he never missed a service. As a young adult, Garry began to wistfully explore life outside the defined walls of his upbringing. This led to his fleeing what he must have felt was too confining. He joined the Marine Corps. In his lonely boot camp days he wandered into a street meeting in down townSan Diego. There in a climate away from home he fell into the grace of God as he poured himself out in repentance.
From that moment,Garybecame a fervent God seeker. He married and raised a fine family, all of whom serve the Lord. Garry loved to witness, through acts of service as well as with spoken words. He loved to preach, although he never had a pulpit or a church to call his own. Through the years, he has served as an agent of unity in the Body of Christ. He has mentored many into a vital relationship with Jesus. Scores of people have been affected by the gentle leadership of Garry Bird.
My throat tightens to a near sob as I think about Garry this morning. The life that he has loved amid a host of God’s people threatens to be shortened by a heart that no longer works well. A host that has been influenced by Garry has been in touch with his family. Testimonies of how marriages were strengthened, and how lost people have been redeemed have been reported to Garry’s concerned family.
I LOVE MY CHURCH! The critics, the backbiters, and the malcontents, pale in comparison to the Garry Birds who find their seats in our churches.
“Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit.” Ephesians 4:3