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Why Not Rather Be Wronged?

The Power of Grace

I am privileged to be a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and I’m in my 20th year “under appointment” as is said in my denomination, which means that a bishop has appointed me to a particular church or charge.  For probably a decade before that I was active in a disciple-making organization called the Christian Business Men’s Committee, and was trying to make a living in various ways, none of them quite successful.

When I awakened to faith in my mid 20s, I was absolutely on fire.  I had been to a Cursillo weekend, a short course in Christianity. I’m not going into my previous life, at least not here and at least not now, but let’s just say it was different.  I started reading the Bible in a daily pattern I’ve followed for more or less 40 years now — Psalm, Old Testament, New Testament, Gospel readings.

The new fervor dampened when I realized there were many folks who seemed upset by some strange things — raising your hands in worship, for instance.  It was some sort of odd statement, folk taking sides on something inconsequentially important.

I rolled in and out of public worship, and blew up some good chances and mostly kept up the daily routine, seeking God but keeping my options open, or so I thought.  After about a decade, I once more heard the Word I longed to hear, and the path began that led me here.

A few years ago we toured Stonehenge in England. It is a staggering, incomprehensible structure. In the midst of seeing these massive stones, fitted together by ways we don’t understand, I looked down the hill and saw a paved road, with cars passing by on their way about their business.

It’s the mysterious and holy, and the everyday life, moving and mixing together that I keep thinking about.  I want to be a purist, but the real life keeps reminding me that Christ walked the earth, and knowing hunger and sweat and loneliness as well as seeing the broader view in a way I cannot imagine.

For the past few years, I’ve been a Missioner with the Inspire Movement.  We have a “Way of Life” with discipleship, with four core vales: seeking growth, using disciplines, sharing fellowship and engaging mission.  

Each of the core values have questions for reflection, and the ones for “seeking growth”, which I’m pondering now, are:

  • Am I enjoying the love of God?
  • Am I becoming more like Jesus?; 
  • Am I being filled with the Spirit? 
  • Am I aware of God’s presence in daily life?
  • Am I making God known to others by my way of life?  

It’s this last one, ‘making God known to others’, that I’m thinking about now. My denomination is splitting. It’s complicated, but not really.  One of the issues concerns whether Scripture is authoritative — is the Bible the Word of God? If so, then it should be obeyed. If not, then make up your mind what verses you like, then maybe use some calligraphy and frame it for your wall.

Churches are trying to leave the denomination, and some are having a hard time.  Requests and negotiations fail, and lawsuits abound. 1 Corinthians 6 tells us not to go to court against other believers.  “Why not rather be wronged?” the Apostle Paul wrote. The denomination owns the property that the church bought, built and maintains.  (Yes, that’s odd…you can say it. ) 

Of course there is much more to this, much more detail, much more frustration, much more head shaking. How do we go through it?  

So I ask myself all those questions again:

  • Am I enjoying the love of God?
  • Am I becoming more like Jesus?; 
  • Am I being filled with the Spirit? 
  • Am I aware of God’s presence in daily life?
  • Am I making God known to others by my way of life?   

The odd thing is, the answer is more surprisingly “yes!” than I would have expected.  God’s grace is mysterious, and immeasurable.  We go through the life we have been given, seeking to be disciples of Jesus in every step, seeking to be, as Inspire states, a “whole-life disciple”, going through life in the power of grace, with God’s Word being a lamp unto my feet.

Frank, Inspire Missioner in Texas, USA

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