Have you heard the phrase, “If you find the perfect church, don’t go there because you’ll ruin it”?
It’s true though, isn’t it?
The fact of the matter is, there are no perfect churches because church is made up of flawed people who are at various places of maturity – both psychologically and spiritually.
And a sign of spiritual maturity is the ability to accept people where they are at without feeling the need to act as the Holy Spirit in their life. It realizes that while we may see areas where they need growth, the Holy Spirit may be working in another area that we can’t see and unsolicited advice can interrupt that process and thwart what the Holy Spirit is doing in them.
Agape love openly accepts and embraces these people – faults and all. It remembers that these, too, have a place in building God’s Kingdom. It is patient with them and ultimately and lovingly challenges them to grow to be more like Christ! – 14 Days of Agape
I think one of the kindest people I ever met was a precious sister in North Dakota. I loved talking with her. You couldn’t get through a conversation with her without her whipping out a tissue to wipe her eyes. She wasn’t depressed – no, far from it! Her tears were tears of joy.
While not naive about people and their shortcomings, she accepted everyone. In the time I knew her, she never spoke a word against anyone. In fact, she oozed so much kindness that her loving demeanor literally made you want to be just like her! It was like you didn’t want to share gossip with her for fear that you’d ruin the warm embrace that her presence brought with her in the room.
That’s what I want to be!
I want to ooze so much Agape love that people who are around me lose the desire to share gossip or negativity about others.
This kindness doesn’t require you to be ignore negative situations, or even confront others when the situation requires it. It simply means that you choose to hone in on their positive traits.
It’s really, really easy to make people’s flaws your focus. But, ask yourself this: what if people only ever focused on your flaws, while missing all the positive aspects of your character.
It would be a shame, wouldn’t it?
We all have something good to bring to the table and a healthy church is a church that knows how to turn the spotlight on those qualities, while allowing the Holy Spirit to do His work on the others.
One element that will destroy a church
I would contend that negativity can act as a warning bell that there is a deeper issue that needs to be resolved in our hearts:
Pride reveals itself in multiple forms in our lives. But let’s look at three.
1. Envy. Envy is competitive. It is possessive. It only wants itself to succeed and is threatened by other people’s advancement. It has to be the best, the brightest, the most successful. It has to have the newest toys and the most modern styles.
When the “new kid” shows up looking better and having more toys, envy is threatened by him and the only way envy can dethrone this threat is to, in his mind, find every flaw and hone in on them.
Envy destroys a church in two ways:
1. Competition within its own walls will literally cause the church to self-destruct. When its members constantly try to one-up each other while tearing each other down in order to ensure they come out on top, there is no other way for this scenario to end but in complete and utter destruction.
2. Competition with other congregations around it will literally isolate this church behind iron gates. The need to do bigger, better functions, have a bigger building, a better worship team, and better atmosphere is the antithesis of what the church was meant to do and be. We must ask ourselves, whose kingdom are we building, anyway?
1. Boasting. Ever hear of a “humble brag”?A humble brag is where you want to pat yourself on the back, but don’t want everyone to think you’re being boastful, so you preface it with, “Wow! I am so humbled by the fact that I _______”.
Ever been guilty of a humble brag? Me too.
Agape love doesn’t seek the spotlight, so it has no reason to be ostentatious. Whatever it has, any success it has attained, any degree it has earned, or any position it fills is merely a gift from God and therefore it has no reason to parade itself as if it these achievements have personal merit. – 14 Days of Agape
1. Arrogance. Arrogance differs from boasting in sense that it not satisfied with only broadcasting its accomplishments with those around him; it literally assumes that it is superior to every other person in its company. It has forgotten that God’s hand is against the proud.
Arrogance will kill a church because it is the very antithesis of Jesus. Jesus, even when dealing harshly with the religious rulers, never did so to elevate Himself. He did so to free the oppressed. The motivation behind His action is what set Him apart from those today who confront and attack false prophets and teachers without love and grace.
If we truly want to see a harvest of souls in our churches, we must allow the Holy Spirit to cultivate patience and kindness in our hearts and eradicate pride.
“Love suffers long [and] is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up;” 1 Corinthians 13:4