It's a challenge between husbands and wives, between mother and daughter-in-laws, among siblings, in the UNITED Nations, between co-workers, in the halls of Congress...
And even in church pews.
Sometimes it's just plain hard to get along. To accept and be gracious toward another regardless of whether we see eye-to-eye.
As you likely know, our church family will be voting on a proposed by-law change next Wednesday night. It is possibly the most important FBC-related vote in recent history so I encourage you to learn more about it and ATTEND the VOTE. However, I think we also to look beyond what happens next week. No matter the outcome, God is still sovereign. And, no matter what happens, we are still called to extend grace and seek unity.
Honestly, it's natural for there to be feelings of resentment and distrust on both sides. It's been amazing to hear of the cordial, no, GRACE-FILLED, conversations that have taken place. Praise God for that blessing and for our staff's leadership! But, I do believe many privately struggle with how to feel about the situation and the people involved.
Whatever side you're on, our church body is going to need some healing. And to achieve that, we're all going to have to make some choices. We, as many churches before us, can let this issue divide us and harbor resentment toward those on the opposing side. Or, we can do the harder thing and recognize that sometimes families face tough issues. We can disagree, but we still need to forgive and extend grace. Any gossip must stop, any judgement must end. God does not give us an option on this.
In 1 Corinthians 12, we read, "The eye cannot say to the hand, "I don't need you!" And the head cannot say to the feet, "I don't need you!" On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor." The body needs all it's parts in all its states. His Word goes on to say, "But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other."
Unbroken. Complete. Undivided. One.
1 Peter 5:8 warns us, "Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour." Satan is prowling like a lion looking to devour. He is watching this unfold with hunger in his eyes, ready to pounce, eagerly licking his chops because he knows this is a very dangerous snare for believers. He lurks for the opportunity to weaken us in our witness and our walk.
I pray that grace-filled conversations will continue to happen and, where there is temptation to speak ill-will, that God will guard our words. Psalm 141:3 reads, "Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips." Pray for God to insert a God-sized mouth guard in these coming days so we can strive for unity and protect the body of Christ whom God so richly loves.
And, finally, "Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life” (Proverbs 4:23). Pray that not only will we have control over our words, but that the heart of God would be in us.
May God be glorified!