“As God’s household, you are built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. The whole building is joined together in him, and it grows up into a temple that is dedicated to the Lord. Christ is building you into a place where God lives through the Spirit.” Ephesians 2:20-22 (CEB)
This passage is such a wonderful reminder of who is in charge of the church – God’s household. We so often let ourselves become carried away with what WE think should be done or HOW it should be done, that we often forget to stop and ask GOD what to do. It seems to me that churches who become divided or in trouble have forgotten to ask God for guidance and then really listen and discern what that guidance may be.
Years ago, I heard a story about a church that was deeply divided. People drew sides, and there were many bitter words exchanged, arguments, and devastating consequences. Some people left the church, and others were determined to “stick it out” until they got what they wanted. Eventually, though, the church ended up closing because the congregation could never come back together; too much damage had taken place in their relationships. What was the issue that caused all this? It was about the color of new carpeting that was going to be installed in the sanctuary.
Why do we do we let such things become issues? When one of the churches I serve had to pick the color for the carpeting in our newly built fellowship hall, I was a little apprehensive. We stopped to pray first, and we began the process of narrowing down what we thought would work the best. I would jokingly throw in a suggestion of shocking pink or bright yellow, and we all laughed. In the end, we had narrowed the colors down to three, and everyone ended up picking the same final one. We were all amazed, but then we DID pray for guidance and took that seriously. Our fellowship hall looks great; we were good stewards of our money and choices including good quality but at a decent price.
As the Church of Jesus Christ in the world, we are called to set an example for others. If we fight, argue, and have constant dissension, others not connected with the church will notice. If we work through it and find ways to work cooperatively, resolving differences, others will also notice. The church (congregation) is the training ground for living our faith actively in the world. We are joined together in Christ to glorify God in all that we do, and we are empowered by the Spirit to carry that work out wherever we are.
Of course we will have times of tension, strife, and disagreement, but we can set an example of how to live faithfully in the world (but not of it) by reacting differently and treating each other differently than people watching us might. It’s really a matter of claiming Christ as the cornerstone of our lives together and individually. All that we do we do to God’s glory. We learn about and from Jesus’ teachings, and we trust the Holy Spirit to lead us and help us figure out what to do in all circumstances.
When have you experienced challenges in your life – your church?
How was it resolved?
What could have been done better?
What worked well?
In what ways was the church affected?
What did you learn from the experience?