The following is a blog post I wrote for our church’s website last year. We attend ONEchapel, a fairly recent church plant, lead by Ross Parsley. It is a love-filled, truth-speaking, wonderful congregation made up of over 1,000 imperfect people. If you live in Austin, you should join us! Unless, of course, you’re perfect.
I wouldn’t say the honeymoon is over, oh who am I kidding, yes I would.
I have this bad habit, and maybe you do too, of putting most people I’ve just met on a pedestal. I tend to believe that the first impression is a complete picture of a person. I see all of the good attributes they have chosen to display and think, “Wow, she is so perfect!”
Never mind that I have been proven wrong, time and time again. Never mind that no one perfect has ever walked this earth except for Jesus, who being fully God and fully man, begotten of the Holy Spirit, was born without a sin nature.
So when I say that the honeymoon is over all I’m really saying is that I have seen some flaws in our community of believers. I am sure you’ve figured out a few of my faults by now too. What’s followed is – and please refrain from tomato throwing – I’ve been feeling a bit discouraged. My first fleshly response to the discouragement was to isolate myself. We all know that this is the wrong response. I know it too but at first it felt right. Then after a while I began to feel left out even though my situation was of my own making. So while I sit here writing this, I know God is speaking to me more than any of you through the words that will follow.
If the honeymoon period is over, what’s next? Do we all tuck tail and run? Do we stick with the few people whose idiosyncrasies are bearable and ignore the rest? Maybe we just choose to ignore each others’ weaknesses and imperfections and keep smiling? Should we air our grievances with those we feel closest to in hopes we’ll feel better? Or do we decide to love each other regardless of all the faults, just like a real family?
Loving each other isn’t always easy but we all know it’s the right thing to do. The love described in 1 Corinthians 13 is what is expected of us. Love that is patient and forgiving, kind while truthful. Love that doesn’t boast so no one has to envy. Love that is not proud, rude, or self-seeking. This love we should all have for each other, and really the entire world, should stop us from being easily angered and keeping track of how many times people fail us.
It’s a love that only the Spirit can accomplish through us. I don’t believe we can love like this on our own.
I’ve found that when I easily take offense to someone’s words or deeds it’s only when I haven’t been spending enough time in the presence of God. I need His Word daily. I need to be in conversation with Him constantly. I need Him, His Spirit, overflowing in me in order to not attach a motive to another’s careless words.
In the famous words of Ross Parsley, are you tracking with me? Have any of you had a similar experience? And if so, how can we help each of us grow, closer to each other and to Jesus, on this (sometimes difficult) journey?
Here are a few of my ideas:
- Let’s pray daily for our wonderful, God-given fellowship.
- Let’s not expect perfection from each other. God is the only one who will never let us down. He alone is perfect. We’re just a family of wanna-be’s.
- Let’s choose to give people the benefit of the doubt in all circumstances.
- If God has allowed us to see another’s flaws, let’s decide that it’s because He is calling us into a time of intercession for the person. We should consider it our responsibility and rejoice that we have been counted worthy.
- When someone begins to gossip or simply complain, stop them. Then ask them if you can pray for God to fill them with His wisdom regarding the situation since He already knows all about it.
- Let’s protect each other at all costs, just like we would our own children or siblings, showing no favoritism.
- Let’s make this a place of safety where everyone who joins us feels welcomed, loved, and free to be vulnerable. Vulnerable enough to confess sin, so God can shine His light into the darkness enslaving us and bring freedom to every area of captivity in our lives. Vulnerable enough to let the Spirit of God change us.
All of us.
After all, nobody is perfect.