“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.” Romans 8:1-2
Let’s sum up Part One: YOU are NOT God’s trash! You read all about this in the previous post, yes?
Now for the less comfortable part: next time you go to church, look around you. Find a face that said an unkind word, or a person who flaked when you really needed them to come through. Find that person who makes you feel six inches tall and the one who always flies off the handle over nothing. In short, find me, and all my counterparts. And hear what that verse has to say:
They are not God’s trash.
Let this one sink in, my dears.
They are NOT God’s trash.
Stop trying to throw them away!
You’re right. You’re right, okay? They’re broken. Every last one of them, and yes, their brokenness has affected you (and others!) in unpleasant ways. They hurt you, and that was wrong. That is wrong. You’re right! There is something wrong with them.
That’s why they’re here.
Take a look at the rest of them, too, the ones you haven’t tried to throw away yet, and understand, if you stick with them long enough, their broken parts will hurt you too. That’s why they’re here, too – that’s why we’re all here. We’re here for Jesus because we desperately want to be healed, to be fixed.
I would like to insert a little aside here, just so we’re clear: not everyone who walks through the doors of a church belongs to Christ. Not even everyone who serves on a deacon board or plays guitar on the stage or gives large amounts of money to the church belongs to Christ. The verse says, “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” God knows who is who. Jesus told us how we can know, too: “ A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. …Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.” (Matthew 7:18&20, for full context read Matthew 7:15-20, or just Matthew 5-7. It’s, you know, pretty really good.)
An aside to my aside: when I say “fruit,” I don’t mean “works.” I don’t mean you will know who they are by how many starving children they support (a good thing to do, don’t get me wrong). I’m talking Galatians 5:16-26, fruit of the flesh vs. fruit of the Spirit. Read it. Memorize it. It’s how you’ll know.
Now, what I’m saying applies to people who, when you examine their whole lives (and not just their broken pieces and sour moments), show growth in things like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control. Not perfection, mind you. Growth. However small it might be – and it might be smaller in some than others!
Now I know that sometimes church leaders have to make really, really hard decisions to ask particularly abusive or caustic people to leave the local church, and that is biblical. Don’t hear me say it isn’t. But asking a person to leave the local body for a time is different than trying to throw them away for eternity, ya feel me? And since most of us are NOT called by God to be those church leaders at present, what say we let those who ARE called handle it, no? God bless them with His wisdom.
Two steps back to the main path, and, go! Back to what I was saying.
…What was I saying?
Oh, yes. Why we’re here, etc, etc. Folks, we’re here for Jesus. In the end, that’s all. Okay? That’s all. “‘Sir…we would like to see Jesus.'” (John 12:21)
When someone from church hurts one of us, instead of getting all bitter and surly about it, let’s all try this: praise God. Praise the Almighty, Eternal, All-knowing God for His perfect wisdom in wooing those hurtful people to church so He can have a talk with them. Let me tell you, honey, they’re in the right place. Pray they’ll listen, and then answer their prayers by listening yourself. And praise God again, because He knows what each of us needs.
Romans 14:4 says it like this: “Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand.”
PRAISE. THE. LORD.
Let’s decide, as the body of Christ, to let God throw away His own trash. I think He’s big enough to handle it. Let’s let the artist decide if the brush has lost too many bristles to be useful, no? The fact of the matter is that God has decided to keep us – all of us. He went to the greatest possible lengths to recover us from the dump so He could save us forever, and He’s been meticulously restoring us ever since. He sent His Son, then His Spirit. Glory, hallelujah! Praise the Lord, we are redeemed.
Praise the Lord.