Purpose Driven Life: Chapter 21-Protecting Your Church; Day904; Year #4-Stent#1
December 23, 2012 Leave a comment
You are joined together with peace through the spirit, so make every effort to continue together in this way. Ephesians 4:3
Most of all, let love guide your life, for then the whole church will stay together in perfect harmony. Colossians 3:14
Book-The Purpose Driven Life 21
Author: Rick Warren
* It is your job to protect the unity of your church.
* Unity in the church is so important that the New Testament gives more attention to it than to either heaven or hell. God deeply desires that we experience oneness and harmony with each other.
* Unity is the soul of fellowship. Destroy it, and you rip the heart out of Christ’s Body. It is the essence, the core, of how God intends for us to experience life together in his church. Our supreme model for unity is the Trinity. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are completely unified as one. God himself is the highest example of sacrificial love, humble other-centeredness, and perfect harmony.
* Nothing on earth is more valuable to God than his church. He paid the highest price for it, and he wants it protected, especially from the devastating damage that is caused by division, conflict, and disharmony.
* If you are a part of God’s family, it is your responsibility to protect the unity where you fellowship. You are commissioned by Jesus Christ to do everything possible to preserve the unity, protect the fellowship, and promote harmony in your church family and among all believers. The Bible says, “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”
Protecting the Church-The Body of Christ
1. Focus on what we have in common, not our differences.
2. Be realistic in your expectations
3. Choose to encourage rather than criticize.
4. Refuse to listen to gossip.
5. Practice God’s method for conflict resolution.
6. Support your pastor and leaders.
Focus on what we have in common, not our differences.
Paul tells us, “Let us concentrate on the things which make for harmony, and on the growth of one another’s character.” As believers we share one Lord, one body, one purpose, one Father, one Spirit, one hope, one faith, one baptism, and one love. We share the same salvation, the same life, and the same future-factors far more important than any differences we could enumerate. These are the issues, not our personal differences, that we should concentrate on.
Be realistic in your expectations.
Once you discover what God intends real fellowship to be, it is easy to become discouraged by the gap between the ideal and the real in your church. Yet we must passionately love the church in spite of its imperfections. Longing for the ideal while criticizing the real is evidence of immaturity. On the other hand, settling for the real without striving for the ideal is complacency. Maturity is living with the tension.
Other believers will disappoint you and let you down, but that’s no excuse to stop fellowshipping with them. They are your family, even when they don’t act like it, and you can’t just walk out on them. Instead God tells us, `Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love.”
Choose to encourage rather than criticize.
It is always easier to stand on the sidelines and take shots at those who are serving than it is to get involved and make a contribution. God warns us over and over not to criticize, compare, or judge each other.” When you criticize what another believer is doing in faith and from sincere conviction, you are interfering with God’s business: “What right do you have to criticize someone else’s servants? Only their Lord can decide if they are doing right. ”
Paul adds that we must not stand in judgment or look down on other believers whose convictions differ from our own: “Why, then, criticize your brother’s actions, why try to make him look small? We shall all be judged one day, not by each other’s standards or even our own, but by the standard of Christ.”
Whenever I judge another believer, four things instantly happen: I lose fellowship with God, I expose my own pride and insecurity, I set myself up to be judged by God, and I harm the fellowship of the church. A critical spirit is a costly vice.
The Bible calls Satan “the accuser of our brothers.” It’s the Devil’s job to blame, complain, and criticize members of God’s family. Anytime we do the same, we’re being duped into doing
Satan’s work for him. Remember, other Christians, no matter how much you disagree with them, are not the real enemy. Any time we spend comparing or criticizing other believers is time that should have been spent building the unity of our fellowship. The Bible says, “Let’s agree to use all our energy in getting along with each other. Help others with encouraging words; don’t drag them down by finding fault. ”
Refuse to listen to gossip.
Gossip is passing on information when you are neither part of the problem nor part of the solution. You know spreading gossip is wrong, but you should not listen to it, either, if you want to protect your church. Listening to gossip is like accepting stolen property, and it makes you just as guilty of the crime.
When someone begins to gossip to you, have the courage to say, “Please stop. I don’t need to know this. Have you talked directly to that person?” People who gossip to you will also gossip about you. They cannot be trusted. If you listen to gossip, God says you are a troublemaker. “Troublemakers listen to troublemakers.’ “These are the ones who split churches, thinking only of themselves.”
It is sad that in God’s flock, the greatest wounds usually come from other sheep, not wolves. Paul warned about “cannibal Christians” who “devour one another” and destroy the fellowship.” The Bible says these kind of troublemakers should be avoided. “A gossip reveals secrets; therefore do not associate with a babbler.” The fastest way to end a church or small group conflict is to lovingly confront those who are gossiping and insist they stop it. Solomon pointed out, “Fire goes out for lack of fuel, and tensions disappear when gossip stops.”
Practice God’s method for conflict resolution.
In addition to the principles mentioned in the last chapter, Jesus gave the church a simple three-step process: “If a fellow believer hurts you, go and tell him-work it out between the two of you. If he listens, you’ve made a friend. If he won’t listen, take one or two others along so that the presence of witnesses will keep things honest, and try again. If he still won’t listen, tell the church.”
During conflict, it is tempting to complain to a third party rather than courageously speak the truth in love to the person you’re upset with. This makes the matter worse. Instead, you should go directly to the person involved.
Private confrontation is always the first step, and you should take it as soon as possible. If you’re unable to work things out between the two of you, the next step is to take one or two witnesses to help confirm the problem and reconcile the relationship. What should you do if the person is still stuck in stubbornness? Jesus says to take it to the church. If the person still refuses to listen after that, you should treat that person like an unbeliever.
Support your pastor and leaders.
There are no perfect leaders, but God gives leaders the responsibility and the authority to maintain the unity of the church. During interpersonal conflicts that is a thankless job. Pastors often have the unpleasant task of serving as mediator between hurt, conflicting, or immature members. They’re also given the impossible task of trying to make everyone happy, which even Jesus could not do!
DAY TWENTY-ONE THINKING ABOUT MY PURPOSE
Point to Ponder: It is my responsibility to protect the unity of my church.
Verse to Remember: “Let us concentrate on the things which make for harmony and the growth of our fellowship together.” Romans 14:19
Question to Consider: What am I personally doing to protect unity in my church family right now?
Daily Bible Devotional
The Purpose Driven Life, p109
0700, End of Sleep
1300, 40Mile Cycling
1400, 40Mile Cycling
1500, 40Mile Cycling
Today marks year#4 since my MI [view my Year#3 Journal] . So far I had been surviving daily but I do not trust my body anymore. I wake up each day as if it is my last and I am always grateful for every breath that I take. I am well. My body is functioning just right. I saw my cardiologist a few days ago and he is not too worried about my recovery. To my family and friends who sometimes wonder if I will come back from my 40-mile cycling workout or be able to survive a 25yd subsurface swim, I am ok and please do not worry about me. I think I am now ready to go anytime.
Being a cardiac patient makes my life a little different. To me life is not normal anymore. I view things differently. I have not answered the “WHY” question about the cardiac event but I think I’ve already decoded the “WHAT” part. When something happen to a person, there is a domino effect that precedes the event. Humans tends to get awakened and we start doing things differently and in a better way. Many people dread to experience a life threatening illness. In my part, I am glad that it happened. The cardiac event changed me as a person. I think now that life is really too short. If I am given the opportunity to say something nice to somebody, without hesitation I’d say it. Whenever I feel that my service contributes to the well being of another person, I take actions right away. I now think that I might not have another chance to do what I ‘m called to do at a specific moment.
IT’S NOT ABOUT ME
I dislike blowing my own trumpet. Every time I write something about myself or my activities or when I mentioned about what my family is doing and how they are, I feel a slight guilt inside me. I don’t normally use the word “self” very often. When you hear me talking about my achievements, what I’ve done and what I’m doing – I am not longing to be approved by anyone. I’m writing it down here and sharing it to the world so that you might know how I am able to encourage myself despite my life threatening medical condition.
There are people reading this journal who is suffering physically far greater than what I had experienced. I want to encourage you to keep going. Do not lose hope. Stay in prayer. Stay active when you can. The end of your life is when there is no more breath in you. But even that, there is always a hope of heaven.
I WANT TO HELP
If you think that I am in a position to lend a hand, please do not hesitate to let me know. My heart is always open especially to people that I do not know.