I started a new series on the attributes of a healthy church, I know there are many opinions on what are the keys to a healthy body of Christ followers. In dissecting this voluminous subject, I can’t help but think that many of the attributes we equate to health are merely the byproducts of health versus the attributes of health.
When we discuss church health, and this concept can be contextualized to healthy homes, healthy families, etc., I see healthy churches walk in UNITY.
1) Healthy Churches thrive in UNITY and they die in DISUNITY.
If you look at the beginning of the churches birth, the birthing room of the church was in the power of the Holy Spirit through the spirit of Unity. In Acts 2:1, we see the value of unity as Luke gives the historical pretext to Pentecost, “When they were all in one accord….”
There is something powerful when a local body of believers is Unified under the mission of the CHURCH. In fact, Satan is not scared of a large congregation, but he is petrified of an united one.
How do you Unify a group of people who have their own priority, passions, and purposes? You give them a Vision that is bigger than them and driven by Eternal and Kingdom Purposes! The Church’s vision has to match Christ’s mission of the Great Commission and the Great Commandment. When the Church is at its best, it becomes a picture of Christ to its community, it is loving, serving, giving, growing, and worshiping.
God is calling us to a VISION that is not motivated by selfish ambition, but servant leadership.
This is what I have found in relationship with Church Life, Marriage Life, Family Life, etc.
You CANNOT UNITE SELFISH PEOPLE, you only CAN PACIFY THEM.
Self-absorbed, self-centered churches, relationships, will drive wedges, stir up controversy, and fill your life with unnecessary drama, because they have forgotten the church is not about being served, it is about a servant.
When the Church is focused on the “ONE MORE” principle, they are motivated with servant’s heart to bring people into relationship with Christ, move people into the knowledge of Christ, and ultimately deploy people into their God-given purposes which becomes cyclical in growing God’s kingdom. (Luke 15)
I want to be apart of the “One MORE” Church who is united passionately around making an eternal difference by drawing those far from God to a relationship with Christ and His Body.
If UNITY is ONE THE KEY INDICATORS OF HEALTH, and I believe it is, our Adversary has One agenda, John 10:10, to destroy and disrupt the flow of health.
You see Satan’s Goal is Destruction, his strategy is DIVISION, and his tactic is Offense.
The devil will use our fears and insecurities to create distractions and disruptions into our relationship with fellow believers. In pastoring for almost 20 years, I have seen amazing people who were excited, passionate, and talented, misled over a small offense. How did people get sidetrack so easily? They operated under the spirit of offense. They allowed an issue, and honestly, it might not have been there issue, it could have been a close friend or family members, to begin to wedge the relationship and instead of following the Biblical mandate to resolve the issue with their brother or sister in Christ, they allowed the enemy to NURSE AND REHEARSE THEIR HURTS AND DISAPPOINTMENTS.
Have I ever been offended? YES and in fact, there isn’t a day that goes by where something doesn’t rub me the wrong way. But, being offended is an act, walking in offense is a choice.
I have had people who I loved deeply and dearly, betray me, speak mistruths about me, foster gossip and ultimately have brought a great divide in the kingdom over “issues” which they internalized and innoculated into other families.
I have seen marriages split, family members not able to attend other family events over the spirit of offense. The bait of satan is not a new one, he’s been doing this for centuries, and he knows how to push our buttons, and who to use in the process.
So how do you stop the offense from taking root? The key is learning how to react like Jesus.
1) Jesus taught us to go to our brother/sister quickly Matthew 5
When we get offended, sometimes it could be a misunderstanding, so when we are rubbed in a relationship, just go to the one who caused the offense and seek understanding. Secondly, when dealing with offense, know three things:
TACT- HOW YOU SPEAK
TIMING- WHEN YOU SPEAK
TRUTH- WHAT YOU SPEAK
In almost every case where people allowed offense to run rampant, they failed in all three of these areas. They allowed the event and the cause of frustration to go too long without clear dialogue and they became more emotionally attached to their hurt then to their relationship. Let me say it like this, when you operate through the spirit of offense, your pain becomes your filter and you no longer see things the way they are, but you start seeing things the way you are.
2) Jesus taught us to walk in forgiveness- Ephesians 4
Once we have spoken to the event, whether we get the conclusion we were seeking, we have to chose to let it go and walk in forgiveness. Forgiveness is not an act, its a journey. If you get over it quickly great, if you don’t, you have it to choose to walk it out. How do you know you have truly forgiven? When you can look at the person without malice or contempt. Remember when Jesus taught on Offense in Luke 17, he told his disciples when they asked how many times should I forgive my offender, and Jesus said,
“If your brother or sister17:3 The Greek word for brother or sister (adelphos) refers here to a fellow disciple, whether man or woman. sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them.4Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them.”
5The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!”
6He replied, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.
Walking in forgiveness is walking in faith! It takes faith to allow God to manage your offenses and walk in forgiveness. The same grace you received from God becomes the vehicle by which you find freedom through forgiveness.
3) Let God be God-
Retribution, reconciliation, restitution, those are God’s to handle. Truthfully, sometimes you don’t see any of theses materialize through your natural eye. But, I have seen God do miracles in relationships, I have seen God heal old wounds, I have seen God restore broken relationships, and I have seen God do more through His power and grace then I could have done in all my strength and efforts. The goal of the believer is to keep the bond of peace, walk in humility and mitigate the distractions by living an offense free life.
In pastoring people, keep people focused on the main thing, and learn how to nurse and rehearse the right things by reminding everyone of our mission which is to reach those who are far from God. When we keep the main thing the main thing, the little things become insignificant to the purposes in and on our lives.