Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Joy in the Trenches (A Razz to the Self-Righteous)

OK. Time to check in before May hits the books. Two thoughts strike me.

First, the earlier pastoral challenges (as one elder amongst others who altogether are charged to lead, protect, and nurture) remain but there is encouragement in seeing the faithfulness of our folks. This is particularly true in the case of a young woman in our fellowship who, whilst in the midst of relational challenges with a key person in her life who is living markedly out of step with God’s Word and persisting in a destructive direction, is staying the course of obedience to Christ – amidst tough circumstances.

Seeing Christ increasingly formed in her is overwhelmingly a source of deep joy. Granted, I hurt (and we as a community hurt) for her (and the erring one, too); nonetheless, what would otherwise be a wholly terrible happening is being redeemed by her obedience to Jesus and the instruction of the Scriptures.

Christ is getting glory and the on-looking village sees a glimpse of Christ engendered courage and grace that somehow allows our sister to find the strength to love a stiff-necked loved one as Christ loves her rather than acting to destroy a things or run away. Humbled and exhorted I am. May her tribe increase?

Secondly, two village "brothers in Christ" made the marquis (actually the tavern events email reminder that goes out weekly into the community) at the local pub. How about that! I am absolutely tickled to bits. The note read, “A and B, of XYZ church, share their musical talents and acoustic styling this Thursday at the Tavern”. Wow. A church making the pub mailer- how sweet is that?

Seeking to be friends – and make friends- to our village neighbors, a number of our folks faithfully gather at the village restaurant and tavern and hang out most Thursdays. Moreover, we really love our neighbors and miss their company when a weekly meeting is thwarted for one reason or another. Likewise, we are grateful to the owners for providing a “third place” – really the only one in the village since our beloved coffee house closed- for our community and it is brimming with folks whom Christ loves. Therefore, we seek to know and love them, too.

Surprisingly, some “Christians" in the village –maybe moralists, legalists, or the self-righteous are better descriptors- view our presence there as a “bad witness”. Well, to tweak a comment from the gospels (tweaking it to shift the subject from the poor to the pompous), the “self-righteous” we will always have with us. So, let's get on with the mission and love as Christ loved. Certainly, we must practice loving respect for all; yet, in this matter the moralists can just get over it. Where our neighbors are – there we will be. So, let the criticisms continue. For me, I pick the publican over the Pharisee.

Anyway, I hope to write more often but working, loving my family, serving my neighbors, and doing the work of a co-laboring shepherd and participant in the Body of Christ do really compete for attention and time to write. And you know what- I’m glad it is so.

How I love the trenches. For, in them, I find the nurture of my Savior and joy in following His way for His glory, the good of His people, the blessing of others.

All the Best to you and yours,

Thom

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