Disloyalty: The Relationship Squasher

Disloyalty: The Relationship Squasher

I stood on the back porch of our small gray bungalow on the street corner of Alexander and Johnson Street, wondering if my twin friends thought I looked any different. Our family had just returned from a year-long sabbatical to Argentina and they were one of my first visitors since arriving home. After being apart for the entirety of our third grade year, they were now tan from swimming at the pool all summer and their blue eyes danced with excitement. We stood exchanging chit-chat while our moms stood nearby catching up. This was when email... text... even long-distance calls were difficult. We had relied on snail mail for our communication... and it would take months sometimes to arrive in Venado Tuerto from the States.

"There's two new girls that are gonna be in our class this year!" Sarah told me, her face lit up. New people were rare to our small town... so anyone new, was exciting and usually immediately popular. You must realize, I had grown up with 28 of basically the same kids in my class since I was in preschool.

"They're both from California..." Abbie whispered. And to those of us kids who were born and raised in Nebraska? California was an exotic place... full of Disneyland, Hollywood, surfing and beaches.

Those two California girls were seated at the same table with me that first week in 4th grade. Over the next couple of months, I found myself becoming friends with both of them: one with beach-blond locks and a carefree attitude and another with dark hair, dark eyes and a sweetness I had never seen.

 

But I remember the exact moment I chose to be disloyal to one of them. With all the change of moving back home, realizing that friend loyalties had changed in a year, and moving into the 4th grade (with all its new responsibilities), I made the choice to distance myself from the sweetest girl I've ever met. In a mad scramble to stay in the "Cool Girl Group", I gossiped about that sweet girl and ignored her for the rest of the year. Maybe the next 4 years.

How awful was my heart in those moments? I am acutely aware at how insecure, powerless, and out of control I was: that lanky, skinny girl with green eyes and hair she'd spent an entire year worrying over as she grew out her bangs.

And in my desperate attempt to fit in- I alienated myself from a sweet and lovely girl who continued to show me grace and love, even when I did not.

 

Had my adult-self been able to sit that terrified 4th grade girl down and have a conversation, I wonder how much different my life would have been. Because that dark haired, sweet girl? She became one of my best friends in high school, once I decided I no longer needed to fit in, but began opening my eyes to the people Jesus led me to.

 

The Choice

C'mon. You've been there.

In that moment, when you make the choice to abandon all loyalty to something or someone and pick something new. It could be as simple as a skincare line, brand of chips or deciding to attend a different church. But, you cannot deny at least at some point, you've been disloyal.. to someone... or something.

Now, it could be that at some point, these things are not worthy of our loyalty. I mean, a chip brand... really? Unless, your grandpa used to work for them, or it's your family's company, I get it. But, when we choose to be disloyal to things that truly matter, we can lose out on a crazy amount of good. And I'm not talking about chip brands here. I'm talking about deciding to walk away from a person. A family. A job. A church. A responsibility. A calling. You name it. When it comes to relationships of any kind, disloyalty does no service for you.

It may seem to temporarily fix the problem. You can go YEARS without noticing any hurt or angst for yourself personally. But, it will catch up. Just like it did my freshman summer, when I looked around, and realized that there was one person who had consistently been kind to me. A sweet, dark-haired girl who continued to reach out and ask me to hang out to watch a movie or go shopping. I had missed out on years of friendship with this girl. Thankfully, we have the type of friendship that I can call her at the drop of a hat, and we pick up right where we left off.

 

The Connection of Faith and Loyalty

"So, what's the problem with disloyalty, Meg?" you may be asking. I mean, we do live in a culture where we are constantly bombarded with the next best thing. I am guilty of not being loyal to skincare lines. I give them a month, tops. If I'm not seeing results or the cost is crazy high, I move on to something else.

When the thoughts began forming in my mind regarding disloyalty, I looked up synonyms on it. Because, surely, there's a cooler word than disloyalty that I can use to title this thing with- right?

The words that stared back at me hit me like a ton of bricks.

  • Infidelity
  • Fickleness
  • Betrayal
  • Unfaithfulness

Ouch. Disloyalty is similar or the same as these words? And when I went to scripture to see where disloyalty was mentioned... it wasn't much better.

Psalm 78:8

They would not be like their ancestors- a stubborn and rebellious generation, whose hearts were not loyal to God, whose spirits were not faithful to him.

If we look closer at this verse, there is so much wisdom to be found. Notice how loyalty and faithfulness are almost succinct with each other. And the behavior that accompanies that disloyalty and unfaithfulness? Stubbornness and rebelliousness. If we pretend to have faithfulness to our God, but then choose to be disloyal to relationships around us? What does that make us?

Hypocrites. Yikes!

 

Because when it comes to relationships, disloyalty does more harm than good. Disloyalty halts your ability to grow or mature. You will never have to look that person in the eye and own up to your portion of the problem. You won't have to ask for forgiveness or allow the offender try to apologize to you. When you choose disloyalty, you are choosing to alienate yourself from a possible relationship. And in a world where we are so disconnected, especially now, why would we choose that? Why choose loyalty when disloyalty is so much easier?

Why? Because loyalty means staying with it, no matter how hard... how dire it seems... no matter how frustrating. But what do you gain? Commitment. Deepened appreciation. Thankfulness. And trust begins to build. (More on that to come...)

John 15:13

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends.

Here's that thing about love and relationships again... and its pretty intense. Now, maybe your brain is going in circles with all I'm trying to connect for you. I mean, asking for you to lay down your life for your friends? Yep. Intense.

 

But here's the real predicament.

How can you learn forgiveness, if you choose to walk away from every relationship the minute that they show their imperfections? How can you learn to give grace to those we come in contact with, if we avoid every possible chance of conflict?

When it comes to disloyalty, we may be missing out on a grander plan. There may be things that we are not maturing in. Could it be that if we were to choose loyalty to those relationships... that job... that responsibility... that church... that family... that we may gain so much more?

We can never fully mature if we cannot truly love others, forgive and give grace to those we live life with on a daily basis.

So, how do we push past disloyalty and move into loyalty?

It's pretty simple actually. Just choose to be loyal. Stick with it. Push through. It comes down to endurance and patience. Now, that may sound simple... but it's far from easy. Choosing loyalty means you may have to get some abuse from those who don't understand loyalty. It means that instead of looking out for you, you're looking out for others. It means that you may have a tougher life while you navigate awkward conversations and begin to look conflict square in the eye.

But the reward of loyalty? It could mean you will find:

  • a friend for life
  • a safe place within your family to rest in
  • a relationship that stands the test of time and hardship
  • a job that you can grow and learn in
  • a church family that will stand beside you in love, no matter what
  • a calling that leads you to unimaginable joy

On top of that, you may find:

  • commitment in your marriage
  • true appreciation in your workplace
  • genuine thankfulness from your family and friends
  • others who trust you

I mean, if these things don't excite you... then don't choose loyalty. It's as simple as that.

 

 

What’s the Deal with Context?

I remember it vividly. A well-known and loved professor screaming at the top of his lungs, “CONTEXT IS KING!” At first, I had no idea what he was talking about. I felt out of the loop, like he had this private club that I didn't have the key to. But the more I learn...

Finding the Kingdom During Covid 19

Finding the Kingdom During Covid 19

March 2020

I sat with a towel twisting my wet hair up on our bed, back in our master, while our worship pastor, our children's director and my husband sat no more than 10 yards away and I listened to their honest, pure, worship. Tears began to fill behind my eyes and threatened to stream down my face. The words that rang throughout my house were, "You are making all things new..." And yet, as I sat in bed with a fever and a desperation to heal quicker, I knew and loved that my church was still being a church.

In the Confusion

This time with the craziness of Covid-19 has been a whirlwind or as some have referred to as being like the movie, Groundhog's Day... over and over. Social media has gone RIDICULOUS with people now having free time to spout off their thoughts and ideas about the situation (I've seen an immense amount of good come out of our situations) but this morning... I could just be... and listen... and softly sing to my King while no one watched. Honestly, I could barely get the words out. Here's the conclusion I've come to amidst all of this chaos and disorder:

  • I've found peace where once my heart was jumbled and stressed.
  • I've been able to breathe, really breathe in, and experience pure joy with my kids daily.
  • I've been able to dig into Scripture and geek out to the possibilities I find there.
  • I've been able to worship with no one watching.
  • I've been able to spend time reaching out to my church family more regularly to ask for or pray for them.
  • I've watched my kids settle in and just be... without the crazy amount of time constraints they used to have.
  • I've been able to see all of my church family's faces via Zoom and laugh with them.
  • I've watched our church family come together in a tighter knit community to support and love on each other even virtually.

Chaos and the Church

It's not the same... we can't meet together collectively. It's not normal... we aren't allowed to worship together in the same room anymore. It's not even similar... we are spending church virtually instead of spending next to flesh and blood. But here's the thing... we are meeting separately... but we are together in spirit.

We've got to let go our our stubbornness... our resentment for how things were handled... our need to want things our way... and move into a time of healing, rest, and thankfulness that we live in a time and age where we can still meet- even if virtually.

I think back to one of the first Sunday's after Jesus' death. We find the disciples and Jesus's followers spread out all over the city of Jerusalem... hiding. Some followers had even left the city and were headed home to Emmaus. But when Jesus finally appears to them in Luke 24, they think he's a ghost. They can't even believe he's back!

The Kingdom they thought was coming... didn't.

The life they thought Jesus had alluded to- was completely upside down.

I mean- the guy they'd been following around had been preaching of a new Kingdom... and then, whelp, he was killed. And now, they were huddled in a house, just waiting for something and thinking that there was no way this Kingdom was going to happen anymore.

"Then he said to them, “Don’t you remember the words that I spoke to you when I was still with you? I told you that everything written about me would be fulfilled, including all the prophecies from the law of Moses through the Psalms and the writings of the prophets—that they would all find their fulfillment.”  He supernaturally unlocked their understanding to receive the revelation of the Scriptures,  then said to them, “Everything that has happened fulfills what was prophesied of me. Christ, the Messiah, was destined to suffer and rise from the dead on the third day.  Now you must go into all the nations and preach repentance and forgiveness of sins so that they will turn to me. Start right here in Jerusalem.  For you are my witnesses and have seen for yourselves all that has transpired. And I will send the fulfillment of the Father’s promise to you. So stay here in the city until the mighty power of heaven falls upon you and wraps around you.”

Here's what's crazy about us humans: we think we're soooo smart. The disciples thought it was all over when their Savior was killed (and who's to say we wouldn't have thought the same?) They thought the Kingdom that Jesus preached, would never rise up. And yet, it did.

The Kingdom is happening around us. I'm seeing it in the faces of people who are selflessly dropping off food on our porch so that my husband doesn't have to scramble to make dinner for all of us after taking care of us all day. I hear it in the voices worshipping from my living room. I receive it from the texts and social media messages that encourage and build me up with promises of prayer and healing. I read about it through the words of my King in scripture. I feel the Kingdom when I pray while weeping when no one is watching. It is all around us. God is with us.. even when we feel like church isn't normal. The Kingdom is here... do you feel it?

The Crazy in Church Planting

10 Years Ago...

  • We felt God tugging on our hearts in regard to church planting
  • Attended a Weekend Church Planting Q&A through Ozark Christian College

8 Years Later...

  • We felt God leading us to plant a church in a city where my husband worked
  • Realized- we would eventually have to leave our recent “home” church in order to plant God’s leading only 25 minutes away
  • Had a family uproot themselves from out of state and move into the area to help us plant
  • Got pregnant (whoops… there goes smart planning…)
  • Dreamed about where to plant, prayed about where to plant, talked about where to plant…
  • Began meeting with our team (at the time it was a total of 7 adults…)
  • Had TONS of prayer teams all over the country begin to pray for our team
  • Joined Nexus Church PlantingMichael began to be coached by an experienced church planter
  • Had our 3rd baby boy (people were not joking when they warned us that going from 2 to 3 was “a whole ‘nother ball game!")
  • I began battling post-partum depression (1st time ever… our crazy life definitely wasn't to blame… ha!)
  • Attended a weeklong assessment process with Nexus (making sure we were actually adequately prepared to plant a church.)
  • Had our first Outreach Event… and the only people that attended were… OUR TEAM. (We were literally giving hotdogs away to people that walked by our Pavilion at the park… sad.)
  • Had another Outreach that was more promising… I think there were 13 people there that were not comprised of our team??
  • Lost part of a salary that we had “in place” for our first hire due to a change in support from a church
  • Was given a warehouse and space in a strip mall for next to nothing
  • Lost 3 of our team (I cried a lot during this time) but gained 4 more team members
  • Had our first church BBQ. It was a hit and I began to have hope (not like I’d ever questioned God or anything- that was sarcasm.)
  • Gained a worship band… and we were two weeks from our “Pre-Launch.”
  • Spent an insane amount of hours:
    • Cleaning the building
    • Re-drywalling an entire room (there was carpet on the walls.)
    • Peeling glue off the cement floors (several times)
    • Primed and painted every single wall in those areas
    • Cleaning more…
    • Painting more…
    • Scraping dog urine and feces off the warehouse floor with this crazy rented floor scraper (It had been a doggie hotel. Yes, I am serious.)
    • Climbed up into the dropped ceiling in the warehouse to discover… wait for it… PILES of dog hair from a dog hair vacuum vent. Took several trash bags to dispose of it.
    • Cleaned out the ductwork (think hair…)
    • Glued down carpet squares in two rooms
    • Scoured 4 bathrooms (one with a weird shower…)
    • Procured a stage and then had to fix it due to huge holes in it.
    • Stained the concrete floor upstairs
    • Had random worship practices while sitting on the concrete floor or upside down paint cans
    • Found huge cable spools for tables
    • Borrowed a sound system… and

Take a Breath... I think that's it.

My emotions during this time? Numb. There wasn’t time to pause and think about it. It was constantly… GO…GO…GO.  And then the doubt crept in. We lost our first hire within two months. We lost most of the worship band but gained a dedicated worship leader. We lost support from those close to us. Previous friendships faded and almost ceased to exist when our lives became fast-paced with the church plant. We saw people walk in the doors, tell us that they would be back- and then they wouldn’t. On our actual Launch day, a woman stood up and walked out during the sermon. (When there’s only 16 people in attendence… you kinda notice.) And all this time, I am weeping inside, mostly because of my pride and insecurity. I wanted to run. I wanted to leave. I had thoughts of loading up my car with my children and driving 7 hours to my parents just to escape the constant drama of church planting. We (as a church) were accused of: 
  • Being too young
  • Putting our young family in danger because of the workload of ministry
  • Being egotistical to think that we could (even with God’s Help- goodness!) plant and grow a church
  • Planting a church in a city of churches
  • Trying to be too forward thinking in regards to how church should run
  • Trying to run the church like a business
  • Not giving clear expectations to our first hire
  • Not fulfilling expectations of what a church plant would look like to our original team
  • Miscommunication… a lot.
  • Unorganization
  • "Playing" church instead of being the church
I still wrestle with the pain of all those accusations. I feel deeply about this church that God grew in our hearts to plant. And because I feel deeply, most all criticism hurts. That and the complete and utter physical exhaustion of planting a church can wear on a person. But God has assured me of one thing over and over. He is there. Forever. And he hears my cry for help. No matter how many times…

Psalm 18:6-19

When I was in trouble, I called out to the Lord.
 I cried to my God for help.
 From his temple he heard my voice.
 My cry for help reached his ears. The earth trembled and shook.
 The base of the mountains rocked back and forth.
 It trembled because the Lord was angry.
 Smoke came out of his nose.
 Flames of fire came out of his mouth.
 Burning coals blazed out of it. He opened the heavens and came down.
 Dark clouds were under his feet. 
He got on the cherubim and flew.
 The wings of the wind lifted him up.
 He covered himself with darkness.
 The dark rain clouds of the sky were like a tent around him.
 Clouds came out of the brightness that was all around him.
 They came with hailstones and flashes of lightning. The Lord thundered from heaven.
 The voice of the Most High God was heard.
 He shot his arrows and scattered our enemies.
 He sent great flashes of lightning and chased the enemies away.
 The bottom of the sea could be seen.
 The foundations of the earth were uncovered.   Lord, it happened when your anger blazed out.
 It came like a blast of breath from your nose. He reached down from heaven. He took hold of me.
 He lifted me out of deep waters.
 He saved me from my powerful enemies.
 He set me free from those who were too strong for me. They stood up to me when I was in trouble.
 But the Lord helped me.
 He brought me out into a wide and safe place.
 He saved me because he was pleased with me.

Update 2020:

There's a lot of things now, looking back, that my husband and I would change if we were to go back and have a do-over. We would have prayed more firmly about our original church plant team. We had two couples join us from the beginning, and church planters warned us that our original team would leave us eventually. We were naive and thought, "No way! These are some of my husband's best friends!" One couple left us before the first year was up. The other stayed with us through thick and thin... then left after 5 years. I am grateful for both of these couples... because without them we would have never been able to get off the ground. None of us knew the depth of what we were undertaking until WE WERE IN IT. What we didn't understand was that God would send us the couples and families that we would need to survive past Year Five. These families and couples have been a complete GOD-SEND. They have been flexible... full of grace... and there for us like a true family. These are the people who I call when we're experiencing an emergency, heartache or frustration. Since this post was written, the church God planted has moved twice. We've grown, then lost people, then grown some more. We've gone through great interns and several great children's directors. But through it all, we've stayed faithful to the church that called us to plant. And we're still plugging away......Sharing Truth (through discipleship and teaching)... Giving Grace (learning to accept God's grace and give it to others)... and Loving Others (with our words and actions.)
Called Out.

Called Out.

This oneness seems to be elusive to many churches today. And I wonder if it’s because we are looking for the wrong thing when we look for a church family.

Competition: Part 2

Competition: Part 2

The glow inside that rustic barn was almost magical... lights twinkled from barren trees that lined the room and gauzy gold curtains seemed to almost pour down the walls in glimmers of sweet light. The enchantedly beautiful bride and her nervous groom stood quietly holding each others hands at the end of an aisle covered in white rose petals. The groom stood almost a foot taller than her and looked down upon his bride with an unbearable love that showed anxiousness, excitement and unwavering grace in his watering eyes. She peeked up at him with unabashed love and excitement and they patiently waited for the minister to welcome everyone gathered. The crowd of family and close friends leaned forward in their wooden chairs, listening to the music swell and waiting in anticipation for the start of the ceremony to unite these two wonderful people, almost embarrassed to be witnesses of the intimacy of this time. I sat with my purse in my lap, rows back and took in the intimacy of the situation. It brought tears to my eyes knowing the stories of these two great people my husband and I have  had the privilege of getting to know over the last year. I watched as my husband officiated the ceremony and opened his Bible, smiling as he began speaking to the crowd of witnesses. "Ephesians 5:22-33."He cleared his throat and shot a look at the two in front of him. "Oh, Lord... "I prayed quickly as a hush  fell over the crowd. "Help those listening to understand what he's about to explain to them..."
" Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything."
I could tell that some people's walls immediately went up when they heard the words, "Wives, submit..." and they were already tuning him out. "Help them to listen and hear what You want them to hear..." I whispered to my God. You could have heard a pin drop. And then, I watched as my husband paused... smiled to the crowd and continued.
"Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church—  for we are members of his body.  “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”  This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church.  However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband."
After finishing the scripture, I listened as he continued; people leaned forward in their seats to try and figure out where he would go next. "See here's the deal," he said turning his attention to the crowd. "So often this passage has received a bad rap because we forget to read the end of the passage. You see, husbands are called to present their wives as Christ presents the Church. The church is messy. I mean, it’s filled with people like us! (A chuckle swept over the crowd.) We are people who don’t have it all together all the time. People who make mistakes and have bad days. People who sin. Even though we don’t deserve it or look good to others, Christ presents us, the Church, as holy and blameless. We’ve talked about how it’s the groom's role to love his new bride in the same way. And no matter what happens,...in sickness and in health... after shopping trips and long days at work... he is called to love his bride and present her as beautiful and blameless. When a bridegroom loves his bride this way, the natural response is for her to respect him. This groom you see before you today is a man ready to be a husband his bride can respect. I look forward to seeing their marriage reflect Christ's love for the church." Shoulders relaxed and light flooded the faces of those sitting around me.  I could hear whispers of excitement and heads nodding along with him. And then it hit me. The Holy Spirit convicted me in those moments and humbled my heart.  I began to wipe tears from my eyes as I realized another side to this verse that I had never quite grasped. We bash the bride of Christ (his Church) all the time. And we are the bride of Christ.  How twisted is that? In my mind, I see a group of wedding dress clad women screaming at each other, pulling each other's hair, clawing at each other's dresses and hurling handfuls of mud at each other's dresses. Pret-ty ugly. We may all be imperfect churches. We might have a hard time getting along. But we are family. We are a kingdom. And we should at least TRY to work together and uplift each other. Praise Jesus for those churches who do exactly that!
  • Who step out in faith and help a church in need.
  • Who send workers to help a struggling church with excitement and not frustration that they are losing members of their church to another.
  • Who talk excitedly about another church in town that is GROWING!
  • Who ask new plants what their needs are and scramble to help them fulfill them
  • Who work together to reach the community around them that they share in order to bring the Gospel to those who haven't heard it

Back to Love

We as churches have a problem.  A problem with love.  If we cannot love our fellow churches... and church members...then the Kingdom will never advance as fast as it could.
So... love, people.  Give grace when others in your church body make mistakes.... share truth with empathy when someone in your church body needs to hear from God's Word... and then just love them.
It doesn't make sense for us to attack our own Body. (This goes for us picking other churches apart too, people.) Yet we still do it through:
  • Gossip
    • Divisive (the kind that destroys churches by dividing people)
    • Plain Petty
  • Condescending glances
  • The "I Could Do It Better" Mentality when it comes to volunteer roles (even paid positions) within the Church
  • Harsh Criticism of
    • Worship
    • Preaching
    • Children's Ministry
    • Outreach and Events
    • Other Church Ministries
  • Being Exclusive within our churches (going back to Middle School)
  • Church Jumping (Try staying and pushing through the challenge to experience health)
What is that saying? Love conquers all? I mean, isn't that exactly what Christ did for us? Loved us so much to give up his own life to conquer sin for us? Man, we needed that.
Hmmm....
Competition: Part 1

Competition: Part 1

This one has been a long time simmering in the back of my heart and mind. And honestly, I try to ignore and wish away this ugly truth. It goes against everything that Jesus spoke of; it has no benefit to the advancement of the gospel; and it creates hypocrisy in our churches that non-believers notice. So... pretty much... all negative. (And the inner peacekeeper in me screams, "Why can't we just all get along????") I noticed it when I was just six years old, playing out in the yard with a neighbor boy. We were seriously discussing our churches (which is hilarious when remembering our age at the time) and I started to realize something strange.  Anytime I mentioned something at our church, he would mention something better at his church. And when he mentioned something different at his church, I felt the need (and followed through on it) to one up him with something equally cool or more different at my church. I left that conversation feeling disappointed in myself; I still wish I could go back and change the way I talked with him. It was competition... plain and simple. And I knew (even at that young age) that we should have been encouraging each other in our differences instead of competing with each other.

Church Competition

Through our ministries, my Hubs and I have watched and regrettably listened as people use their own churches to compete against each other.
"We have an amazing children's program! Seriously. I don't know why families in our town go anywhere else!" "That church only sings hymns. They are so out of touch with the rest of our society." "I could never attend a church that used drums in their worship." "We left our previous church because they had decided to do another building program. I mean... why? Aren't they taking enough of our money?" "That church is way too big. I like for my kids to sit with me and not feel judged when they are antsy during service."
These comments make my heart ache. Like almost a depressing ache. Oh... and people... it gets worse. It gets worse when ministers, elders and leaders in churches speak these words or let their actions portray this to others. That breaks my heart. It makes me physically weak and pushes me to my knees.  I don't understand it. I do understand that as humans, we feel the need to compete with each other: in our jobs, our friendships, our athletics, how we raise our children...  But I wonder, is this what God created us for? From the beginning of his ministry, Jesus created a team (12 disciples).  And then, at his ascension, he sent his team out to do ministry all over the world (while still working together.) They didn't get it right all the time-- (check out the book of Acts to see this in action)-- but they tried to work together as best as they could. I think a lot of the time, churches today get this wrong.  We compete with each other: for people (most of them already believers), for fame (should we ever be seeking this?), for money (but it's God's money), for kids (create the best kids program in town), for teens (provide tons of food, games and loud music)... the list goes on and on. What I don't understand is why we can't all work together to accomplish the goal of Christ TOGETHER. Do we not understand how much more effective we would all be if we would be there to love and support each other as fellow churches? At Thrive, we strive to work together with other churches. If someone comes through our doors and doesn't click with Thrive- we support them in finding another Bible-teaching church that will push them in their walk with Christ that we couldn't. We would rather them leave Thrive than  never serve or use their gifts that God created them to use.

The Body of Christ

When reading through the book of 1 Corinthians, I have always loved chapter 12. The section I'm gonna focus on starts in verse 12:

12 The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ. 13 Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit.

14 Yes, the body has many different parts, not just one part. 15 If the foot says, “I am not a part of the body because I am not a hand,” that does not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear says, “I am not part of the body because I am not an eye,” would that make it any less a part of the body? 17 If the whole body were an eye, how would you hear? Or if your whole body were an ear, how would you smell anything? 18 But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it. 19 How strange a body would be if it had only one part! 20 Yes, there are many parts, but only one body. 21 The eye can never say to the hand, “I don’t need you.” The head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you.” 22 In fact, some parts of the body that seem weakest and least important are actually the most necessary. 23 And the parts we regard as less honorable are those we clothe with the greatest care. So we carefully protect those parts that should not be seen, 24 while the more honorable parts do not require this special care. So God has put the body together such that extra honor and care are given to those parts that have less dignity. 25 This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other. 26 If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad. 27 All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it. 28 Here are some of the parts God has appointed for the church:

first are apostles, second are prophets, third are teachers, then those who do miracles, those who have the gift of healing, those who can help others, those who have the gift of leadership, those who speak in unknown languages.

29 Are we all apostles? Are we all prophets? Are we all teachers? Do we all have the power to do miracles? 30 Do we all have the gift of healing? Do we all have the ability to speak in unknown languages? Do we all have the ability to interpret unknown languages? Of course not! 31 So you should earnestly desire the most helpful gifts.

But now let me show you a way of life that is best of all.
Guys.  Girls.  What if the apostle Paul wasn't just referring to a single body of believers (a single church) here. What if he was referring to the ENTIRE BODY of believers.  Every church. Every nation. Everywhere. If we read this like that-- I wonder if we would start acting as if we are on the same team instead of competing teams. Why can't we as churches work together to be the body of Christ to those around us who don't know Christ? If one church has a need, why is it so hard for another church in the area to step in and help fill that need? Why do we always feel the need to compete with other churches?  And again I think, "Why can't we just all get along????"
 I think Paul was trying to give us a major hint in verse 31 when he wrote, "But now let me show you a way of life that is best of all..."
Guys. Girls.  The entire next chapter (13) is all about LOVE. 
Huh.
...to be continued...