what is our purpose? to give glory to God? to enjoy God? to equip the saints? to seek and save the lost?
we're told that when we've been saved, our "wanters" change. we no longer want the bad. we want the good. in my upbringing life has seemed so black-and-white... not very many grey areas, because God has all the answers... right? i still think so... but i don't have all the answers. it is a sudden reality check.
isn't life supposed to be easy now? i mean, when you have a good family, great friends, and a wonderful church, what more could you ask for? the older i've become, the more i've seen pain in churches... it seems like every local congregation of God's followers goes through a really hard time. they are tested. sometimes, unfortunately, they fall apart. they close their doors never to be reopened. it would never be this way for my church, oh no. not me.
in 2 1/2 weeks we'll be coming up on the five-year anniversary of our local church plant, mount hood household of faith community church. it was tough leaving all my friends at our former congregation in gresham, or. God had his plans. sure enough, He brought along a few young men who would soon become some of my most faithful companions. of course i was grateful... now i was happy again. our church was nice. it had been created with such great theological structure with good leadership... i was sure it would last.
i heard bits and pieces about our old church gathering at gresham... they were going through some rough stuff... when it was all said and done, over 90% of all the attendees left. it was heartbreaking. but still... not my church. not me.
this past sunday our service was different. we didn't set up the chairs as usual. instead as one participant put it, "this is a town-hall style meeting!" we were all in a circle. it was time to talk as a family. after singing a few songs, we got down to business. throughout the past year there had been much unresolved conflict among our leaders. with no transparency or accountability to keep them in check, relationships were hurt, our church suffered, and scars still remain.
they told us the truth. while they may not have explained everything, they explained enough to have to ask for our forgiveness. forgiveness is not always easy. it's hard. after the service, i talked to my mom who had been in the middle of the battle... she had wounds from people she thought were some of her closest friends. and it is still not over. it's still hard.
this morning after explaining how the many critics had spoken hurtful words about those involved, she asked me, "...i mean, what are we supposed to do?" i thought of a line from one of my favorite movies. your hero and mine, batman, is about to give up and throw in the towel. he asks his faithful butler, alfred, "what should i do?" alfred's response is simple. "endure, master wayne."
it's not easy. but endure. "this is not how church is supposed to be." it's not easy. but endure. "i am hurting." it's not easy. but endure. as fire tests true gold, so trials test true faith.
"blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him."