I read a passage today that made me think of an incident that took place in our church months ago. The passage is Psalm 8:2a (NIV) which reads: From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise. It made me think of the joy that I have in knowing the preschoolers and children at Grace Fellowship are learning God’s Word and learning to praise Him in song.
Here’s a little about the incident: A while back a new family came to our church and as they were sharing their story with one of our pastors they told him they were told by some other folks in the community that they shouldn’t come to Grace Fellowship because “they don’t teach the Bible there.” If that wasn’t such a tragic statement, it’d almost be funny – but it’s not. It’s that kind of statement that continues to hurt the cause of Christ in our communities and world. If it were true – that would be one thing, but since our church is founded on the Living & Written Word of God – it’s tragic.
In Paul Billheimer’s classic book LOVE COVERS – he states: The most important, momentous, crucial, but the most ignored, neglected, and unsolved problem that has faced the Church from its infancy to the present throbbing moment is the problem of disunity. It has been Satan’s master strategy. The sin of disunity probably has caused more souls to be lost than all other sins combined. Possibly more than anything else, it is the one thing that binds the hands of the Holy Spirit and thwarts His work.
Jesus even prayed for us to be unified SO THE WORLD WOULD KNOW GOD SENT HIM & LOVES THEM: 20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: 23 I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. John 17:20-23 NIV
These are evil times and we have to be very wise if we’re to reach our world for Christ. One reason non-Christians don’t want what we have is because they see and hear things like this in our communities. I suggest to you – that’s not God’s Will. Eph 5:15-17 NIV says: 15 Be very careful, then, how you live — not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.
When those who claim to follow Christ spend their time criticizing other churches & ministries instead of sharing Christ & building others up, they grieve the Holy Spirit. The Will of the Lord in Eph 4:29-32 says: 29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
Don’t get me wrong; none of us are perfect. I’ve been guilty of saying the wrong things and being critical at times, but over the past few years I’ve tried to practice praying for the blessing of other churches & Christians instead of criticizing them. When I drive by another church, I pray for God to move in that church and change lives.
We better be very careful of the words we speak and take careful inventory of our heart because Jesus said: 33 “Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit. 34 You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. 35 The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. 36 But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. 37 For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.” Matt 12:33-37 NIV
On a great note, a short time after the incident happened with the family that was told they shouldn’t come here because “they don’t teach the Bible there” – our Children’s Pastor got this note which I’ve been given permission to share.
Jeremy, I just wanted to tell you how thankful I am about PZ and the great lesson yesterday on worship. Yesterday, Sammy gathered pennies for a penny drive and talked about how that was part of worship. But most of all thank you for getting him excited about reading the Bible (sometimes it either becomes routine or we don’t do it at all). Last night we found the story of Balaam and his talking donkey….tonight we are suppose to find the story about the fire that comes down from Heaven and destroys the enemies…all because of your excitement about reading the bible. Thanks again…it is a true blessing when your child is excited about reading the Bible and your enthusiasm at PZ on Sunday sparked that excitement for Sammy. Have a great day! (Pattie Davis)