Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Testimonies and Dilemmas

This past Sunday and Monday were pretty good. Sunday, I sat with a small group of friends and talked about whatever. We all got to know one a little better as he shared some stuff about his life and what God is doing. I love hearing testimonies and seeing the joy in peoples’ faces- it helps keep God real and fresh to me, besides what God is doing in my own life.

Monday, I had a good talk with another friend. He asked some pretty good questions. I’m still thinking about what my answers might be. I asked him about his testimony and he was willing to share.

I’ve been wondering what the purpose of the local church is. Base responsibility, what must the church do? One might say that the church is to teach the Bible. I think that’s a good thing to do, it might be a responsibility of the pastor, but are all these Sunday classes absolutely necessary? I’m not discounting the importance of teaching or that which this church is doing; I’m saying that it’s not absolutely necessary beyond the duty of the pastor, in my opinion.

I was telling Friend how I question the necessity of teaching from the local church because I received my teaching from outside of the church. Once I became a Christian in high school, the church hasn’t taught me much. Maybe I’m a rare exception. Friend said that he too received a lot of teaching by looking elsewhere, like broadcasts, books, conferences, etc.

It was reassuring to find that I’m not the only anomaly in church.

We both still believe it’s important to be a participant in the local church; I think community has to be a part of the purpose of the local church. What the means exactly isn’t concrete yet. The local church is not about the best pastor(s), the best programs, or the best worship. For me, it’s not even about my friends or family history there.

Back to being an anomaly, even our testimonies of how we came to choose Christ are quite different from how most testimonies seem to go. There are a lot of I-accepted-Christ-when-I-was-very-young or the I-was-completely-destitute-when-God-called-me testimonies. Don’t get me wrong, I love testimonies of all kinds, and the destitute ones can be most moving.

We’re both thinking up ways to start something good going on in the church where we’re currently stationed. One of the questions he proposed was, “if there was one thing at the church I wanted to see happen/ change, what would it be?” We both had very similar answers to this.

Anyways, I’m excited! Of course, it all still amounts to nothing if we just talk and not do anything, so we prayed about this also.

Quite possibly, the devil is trying to steal my joy.

The thing I wrote yesterday, about people thinking I’m an ass, I don’t know what to do about it. I’ve forgiven these people along with forgiving a great many things and other people.

However, this particular thing is not something they’re going to tell me to my face. It’s not something that will be an isolated incident; it’s going to happen again where it will help solidify their false perception of me. Since they didn’t tell me themselves, I can’t use the information.

It also bugs me because they have the same perception of someone else. The whole mess is helped on by others in the group who probably don’t realize this is the case because even within the group, people don’t tell each other the truth. I don’t think they mean to be deceptive, just that they’d rather keep the “peace.” The false perception thing smacks of their uncaring positions.

So this tugs at my wanting to personally be more open and honest with others. I could bring it up if they were my friends, but not all of them are, perhaps. Can I be in true community with people who are not being honest with me? Some are asking me to trust the group. This isn’t the only incident where they have gossiped about me. How much can I trust them now? I trusted them before and they lost it. I’m not saying they need to value my trust, I’m just saying that there was a time when I did and now I don’t so much.

I believe that if members of a Christian group cannot genuinely care for each other, then the service we do for others will not mean much. It will hurt our testimony of glorifying God. People might be grateful for being fed or clothed or whatever service we provide, but once they get a hint of disunity, nothing else will really matter.

I’m not angry about this new information. I am a bit irritated but understand why they didn’t tell me themselves. I’m just trying to figure out if it can be resolved without dusting up more mess.

That is the dilemma.