Tuesday, October 19, 2010

To Help the Weak

Acts 20: 32-38

[25] “Now I know that none of you among whom I have gone about preaching the kingdom will ever see me again. [26] Therefore, I declare to you today that I am innocent of the blood of all men. [27] For I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God. [28] Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood. [29] I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. [30] Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. [31] So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears.

[32] “Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified. [33] I have not coveted anyone’s silver or gold or clothing. [34] You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions.
[35] In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”

[36] When he had said this, he knelt down with all of them and prayed. [37] They all wept as they embraced him and kissed him. [38] What grieved them most was his statement that they would never see his face again. Then they accompanied him to the ship.

[Emphasis mine].

I am no Paul. I do not aspire to be Paul. I do aspire to do God’s work as fervently and obediently as Paul did, but I’m not quite there yet; I’m on my way.
Previous entry, I praised Hope Chapel West O‘ahu for its spirit of obedience to God which was manifest in its excellent and unified production of the Equip & Inspire 2010 Conference. I gave many reasons why I would love to attend HC WO.

And here are the reasons why I won’t be attending HC WO: because it does not need my help.

My home church of KUC, the church in which I “grew up,” is unhealthy throughout. I cannot know for sure but from what I can observe, there are few healthy parts in the church. I love my home church because it has been a home for me, but that is not why I stay. I am staying with KUC because I want to be there when God does his amazing healing work through her. When that happens, I want to be able to fully celebrate with the Body of Christ because I did my part. In Matthew 9:12, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.” My church is sick.

Years ago, I got a deep cut on my leg. It was bleeding so much that it took awhile to clean it enough to put the gauze over it, then it bled through the gauze for several days. When the bleeding slowed and I peeked under the gauze, I could see the layer of meat under the skin. The doctor said that if I had gone to the ER when the cut happened, they could have stitched it up so that it would heal with a less obvious scar. The thing is, all the ER could have done was stitch up the cut; they couldn’t heal the cut. The healing came from the body doing its thing. As a Christian, I believe that God designed me; my body got its healing program and equipment from God.

Now, my body will heal itself whether I believe in Christ or not. Christ is the doctor in the ER. He can give us the best possible chance of healing well. There will still be a scar as a reminder of the healing, but it will be a less obvious scar to people looking in from the outside.

I am a part of the Body at my church. I believe that I am a healthy part of the body, because healthiness comes from the state of my personal relationship with God, which I believe is healthy at the moment. The sick part of the Body will not heal if its healthy parts are cut off or detach themselves.

Back to the passage from Acts. Paul was saying a farewell to the elders of the church at Ephesus. It was in part encouragement to carry on in the work of the Lord in verses 25-27 [and 22-24 leading in], as Paul shows them his resolve for how he will be continuing in the Lord’s work no matter what hardships are coming his way. In verses 28 to 31, Paul is telling them how they ought to carry on, by keeping watch over themselves and the flock, being on their guard, and keeping to the truth. Verses 32 to 34 is about commissioning them to do God’s work and a reminder of how God will provide for them to do the work, as God has provided for Paul to do the work. Verse 35 is a reminder of what work to do and why. At least, this is how I read the passage.

Verse 35 really sums up why I am staying with KUC through the tough process of healing. I believe that my part is simply to help the weak build or strengthen their faith; and then as that happens, we’ll go out together to give to others, passing it on. HC WO is hundreds strong; KUC is, from what I can discern, maybe not quite yet at its first hundred.

Verses 36 to 38 is the picture of how a healthy church lets go of someone who’s been a leader for it but has been called on to somewhere else. To be honest, KUC is not very good at this. This is how I would like to leave a church or ministry: having it cry in missing me but letting me go in peace, rather than crying in relief and kicking me out the door or crying in utter grief and letting me go because they despair. This is my thinking anyway.

That is the main reason I’m staying with KUC, that God is calling me to be about the work of healing at KUC.

Location or distance doesn’t matter to me because wherever God calls me to is the right location. Yes, my mom is at KUC but she only cares that I go to a church; she doesn’t care if it is KUC or not [and I am not in the habit of doing what my mom wants me to… ;) ]. I don’t care if family or friends are there or not because I will find friends wherever I go; God has proven faithful in this area. I will have no shortage of opportunities to serve Christ at KUC; there is a lot to be done.

In terms of God’s calling, I belong at KUC, but otherwise, church attendance for me isn’t about belonging but of making others feel like they belong. God has given me an interesting gift of constant discomfort that allows me to take a step outside of my very small comfort zone and gives me a desire to see to the discomfort of others rather than focus on my own [I mean, I have my moments, then the Holy Spirit nudges me into action]. My friends left years ago and I returned to KUC, I am still with KUC. I've visited other churches, sometimes there for a month or two, some very appealing to me, and they weren't where I needed to be; I needed to be with KUC.

As to growth, God has also given me an explorer’s nature. I’m looking for the next step. I seek out what I want to know and since I desire to grow spiritually, I seek it out. If I can’t find help through the church [which has generally been my case with KUC; I’m not saying that KUC lacks helpful resources for anyone], I read books, look up stuff on the internet, visit with other groups, listen or watch out for what others are doing, listen to podcasts, etc.- whatever it takes. I seek out the advice of those who seem to have the walk down. I am deliberate with my faith; I ought to know about my faith.

And as to ease… I am not fooled into thinking that the Christian life ought to be easy. That’s a lie. The Christian life is difficult. If one wants to grow in Christ, one ought to expect uneasiness; growth comes no other way. It is at times to go lonely or to go unrecognized. I’m fairly certain that no one in the Bible said, “Farewell! I’m off to go party and rejoice with more fellow Christians!” Paul said that hardships were waiting for him in the Lord’s work [Acts 20:23]. James gives encouragement for the promise of blessings through trials and temptations [James 1: 2-12]. If the Christian life was easy, the Bible wouldn’t be so full of warnings and encouragements. Because people do not understand me now does not mean that they never will understand me; I must keep moving forward with my eyes on the Lord.

So, to sum up, I am at KUC because God has called me to be there. It’s not about anyone else. It’s not about me. It’s not about any excuses I can come up with. It’s not about seeking a church that conforms to what I want or what I need.

It’s about what God wants and he will provide what I need.

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