Monday, November 7, 2016
Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ. Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love. Ephesians 4:11-16(NLT)
Paul lists the church’s leader titles and their function, which is to build-up the body of Christ to be mature in the Lord. This unveils the purpose of the church, to be a mature, Godly, loving, and healthy influence in the world, with this result: a world turned to God’s purposes. You can’t do that without truth in every area of life, words, deeds, and motives! Most of us find that a tall order; most of us fall pretty far short of the goal.
There was once a church that had fallen on hard times. It was a large, growing church in the 1950’s and 60’s. Several misunderstandings, followed by church fights and people leaving had decimated the church’s witness and ministry. They were down to trying to hold the doors open and hang-on.
They brought in a seasoned, but young minister whose ideas and energy helped revitalize and re-focus the small, aging group. Within a few years their numbers had grown, and it seemed they were headed for better days ahead.
But a member became somewhat slighted by the pianist’s friendship with another member, and suggested to a friend that it was hard to sit in a church where the minister would approve of his staff person being so insensitive. The friend told another friend, and word got back to the church secretary. The secretary knew this was the kind of thing that had caused trouble before in this church, so she called the offended member and tried to “protect” the pastor by convincing her to just forgive the minister and the pianist.
This led the member to call her friend and share how it was just awful that the secretary knew all about the pastor’s mean-spirited ways. She didn’t want to, but she couldn’t help adding how she suspected the pastor and the secretary seemed to spend too many hours together. By that afternoon the rumor mill had a full-blown theory that the pastor and his secretary were leaving for Spain to live together in a commune.
A few months later that church was looking for a new pastor.
Stories like this would be fodder for trashy novels if it were not for the fact that they are all too often based in fact, and are certainly among the enemy’s chief means of destroying the witness and ministry of many a hornet’s nest that used to pass for a church.
What can be done to head off that kind of horror story?
Speak the truth.
Speak the truth in a Godly, loving way.
Make truth your motive no matter how you feel.
Speak the truth with everything you do, say and think.
It’s that important.
Before you speak, before you judge, and before you act, run it through the Apostle Paul’s filter…is this the loving truth I will speak?