"Molded through the Church"
Folks, I admit, it is not always so easy to be immersed in a local church. What many people hope to be a warm, welcoming, loving, caring, helping, encouraging environment sometimes falls below their lofty expectations. Communities are littered with former “church members” who have become disillusioned with the church for countless reasons. Some have been hurt by negative comments or harmful words. Others have seen two sides to fellow church members, one side during church and a contrasting, darker side outside of church. Those often make comments like, “The church is full of hypocrites.” A few have never discovered the warm and caring community they longed for. They have not made one friend in their church. Some did not agree theologically with the rest of the congregation. A few did not like the pastor. Others were caught in the middle of a church “family feud.” The reasons go on and on.
Becoming invested in a local church is not easy, but participation is essential in fulfilling our calling. Once more, this is where we “work out” our faith. We exercise our God-given strengths and talents. We learn to forgive and be forgiven. We learn to esteem others higher than ourselves. We learn to relinquish our own self-seeking dreams for a God-directed and God-size dream. We learn to worship with others, plan with others, communicate with others, disagree in love with others, pray for others, care for others, learn from others, help others, encourage others, support and be supported. We learn how to make friends, and step out on faith, and give and receive, and be humbled, and close our mouths when needed, and share our testimonies, and on and on it goes in the wonderful world of church life.
Let’s face it. Many of us have tremendous difficulty getting along with one other person, our spouses. How could God possibly expect me to live and love in harmony with two or three hundred people…especially those I do not like very well! To be honest, it is impossible…without the presence of Christ. However, even though every church is composed of imperfect people, when there exists a group of believers dedicated to God’s glory and the advance of His kingdom above each individual self-centered pursuit, then truly remarkable things begin to happen.