The longer I go…as a member of a church.

The longer I go as a member of a church and a part of that church’s local family, here are some things I have grown to appreciate and value more and more.

The longer I go, the more I’m grateful for those not knit together and gifted like me.  Because in the variety of personalities, gifts, and abilities, we see the Spirit at work, forming together many members into one body.  1 Corinthians 12:4-7, 12:  Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone.To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good…12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.

The longer I go, the more I realize I need others in the family to help point out the blind spots in my life.  Brothers and sisters who will not only point them out in love, but walk with me in a spirit of gentleness and restoration.  Galatians 6:1-2:  Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

The longer I go, the more I am thankful for those who are seeking to grow in their devotion, love and surrender to Jesus, the head of the Church.  Ephesians 4:15-16:  15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

The longer I go, the more I’m humbled to see how family members don’t just communicate love with their words, but with their generous actions.  1 John 3:16-18:  16 By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. 17 But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? 18 Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.

The longer I go, the more I’m grateful for opportunities to both receive and extend forgiveness.  I’ve wronged others, and others have wronged me.  It is the byproduct of living and serving in the same family and at the same time, having remaining sin our lives.  And for those tough times, I’m grateful for those committed to live out Ephesians 4:32:  Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

The longer I go, the more I appreciate being under authority.  As a pastor, I am not exempt from authority, but actually under the authority of the elder team, and ultimately Jesus Christ.  I’m grateful for leaders who love me enough to keep watch over my soul.  Hebrews 13:17:  Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.

The longer I go, the more I count it a privilege to walk with others in both celebration and mourning.  Romans 12:15:  Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.

The longer I go, the more I am eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit and live in harmony with one another.  Ephesians 4:1-6:  I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.  Romans 12:16a:  Live in harmony with one another… 

The longer I go, the more I’m thankful for those who use their words to build up, who are generous in their encouragement, and who reject gossip and slander.  Ephesians 4:29-31:  29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.   30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.

The longer I go, the more I love the spiritual family that God has called us to.  People who seek to live out Romans 12:10-13:  10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.   11 Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.  12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. 13 Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality