When you go to the grocery story, how often do you pick up the box of great value or member’s mark of cereal, juice or cookies? Most often the generic brand is cheaper but is it usually better than the name brand grocery item? (My vote is no.) Sometimes without us recognizing, we say generic prayers and give generic praise to God. Generic by definition means general. To have a general relationship with God is to almost have nothing because He cares about you so much so that He sent Jesus to die for your sins, which was personal, because that was His only son. For Him to do something so significant and personal for you and I, we owe it to Him to have a personal relationship. When I think of what God has done for me, He didn’t generally deliver me, as if he only has one way of fixing everyone. When God delivered me it was specific to my struggles and needs (see Just Can’t tell it All). God doesn’t work like Chemotherapy where it just goes and kill cells because they don’t know which ones are good or bad, He gets rid of precisely what you don’t need at that moment and replaces it with good. So then in our thanksgiving to God, we have to recognize that specific work He did and give Him a praise worthy of His work.
If you think about a human friendship, maybe a best friend, your favorite cousin or your mate, what is it based on? How do you know that what you all have is different compared to other relationships? I use that as an example to say that there should be something about your relationship with God that reminds you why He plays such a major role in your life. We sing songs in church all the time like “Can’t Nobody Do Me Like Jesus” and “What a Friend We Have in Jesus”. Those are lyrics from someone that looked over their life and realized how God has impacted their life. It was probably their personal testimony and they shared it, which we as fellow believers are able to relate to.
God can be anything you need if you believe that He is. Never underestimate the power God has. Matthew 19:26 say “Jesus looked at them and said “With man this is impossible but with God all things are possible.” So when you see God’s power working in your life, you should share it and make sure its a personal story. God works in so many different ways and His works are too diverse for us all to tell the same story. “He’s been good.” “He made a way out of no way”. There is nothing wrong with those statements at all however, those are very general statements. When you go to say that, tap into that relationship you have with God and tell that person HOW He made a way and HOW He’s been good to you. Your testimony is powerful and you never know who needs to hear it (or read it). : )
Lately I’ve been pondering the prevalent issue of church hurt and acceptance, or lack thereof. There are so many people who come to church looking for healing or restoration in some areas, but end up leaving worse off. Although they may come in not looking like you or living the best lifestyle, why is it so hard to accept them into the body of Christ? The thing is that church is not about membership or the mortgage or anything that comes to take the attention away. It is merely a venue for God’s vessels to facilitate the works of God. The church is becoming like a country club or organization. There are certain criteria you must meet to be accepted, and we also want to know what you can do for us if you do join. Really, it should be that the requirement is to be flawed and imperfect, but striving and you bring your best servitude to the Lord.
My question then is if we continue to have this checklist of acceptance, where do the misfits go until they are “ready” and meet the requirements? I don’t think many people consider the actual person they are marginalizing and their needs. Rather they are forgetting the true purpose of the church itself. God said “If I be lifted up from the earth, I’ll will draw all men unto me”. The Holy Spirit moves on hearts, and the born again saints have some work to do as well. When Jesus ascended into heaven He told the 12 to go forth and make disciples. We should be building people up so that they can do the same and it be a recurring process. If God is so good to us why don’t we want to see Him do a work in someone else? That’s what would happen if we didn’t leave certain people out. Bring that homeless guy in even though he may not have an offering to give. If you enrich his life and help him restore his life, eventually he will have something to give and he’ll be happy to do so because he will want that ministry to be able to go forth and help others.
God’s love is not partial or conditional. He loves us in our mess, on our way out and beyond. No matter where we are in life He’s waiting for us to let him in and help us. Some people really want to change but don’t have the courage or strength to do it on their own. They need some people to cheer them on and hold them accountable for their actions. They need to be accepted for who they are so that they can become who they should be.
There is always an exception to the rule and everyone that comes will not change right away or some none at all. Once again, the Holy Spirit moves on hearts but our task is to get them in and surround them with the love of God so that they may know that there is more than the life they are currently living. Let them know that God wants to prosper them and see great things happen in their lifetime. But they also should know about the redeeming love of Jesus who gives us eternal life in heaven after our bodies pass away. They need to know that your past doesn’t affect your future if only you confess your sins and believe that Jesus is Lord. We need to share with others the grace God gives us over our situations. We have to remember that just because their sin doesn’t look like ours, God loves us and is still able to deliver them no matter how long they did it, how many times they did it, how many people they did it too, and to what extent it was done. We have to remember our situation and the daily struggle against our fleshly desires and know that there are others who are struggling too. So instead of looking at them as if they are less than or not including them in the functions or activities, make them feel at home so that you can facilitate the work of God in them.