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One unusual thing your church must do

I recently wrote about a lesson I learned a year ago through my church, Everyday Church. This week, I’d like to follow with another.

Easter BBQ

Because nothing says "I love you" like charred meat.Easter this year consisted of a passionate worship service followed by a chilly beach baptism in the fog. I ran home afterwards to ignite some charcoal and start my mad dash of preparation for a deluge of friends barreling towards me for an Easter BBQ. About 20 of us enjoyed linguica, chicken grilled to perfection (by this sexy man), garlic-cheesy bread, various sides, and most of all, fellowship. As the afternoon wound down, about five of us took a nap on various couches and recliners in my living room.

Out of the haze of horizontal digestion, someone outside said, “Hey, here come some Mormons!” Two young men approached sporting suits and “Elder So-and-so” nametags. The love we shared that bright afternoon overflowed to them, and while I continued my lounging, my friends loaded them up with our abundant leftovers and treated them like honored guests.

The two stayed for about an hour, which I’m pretty sure the LDS police wouldn’t have approved of. And they didn’t spend the time talking about their gospel, they just sort of hung out. Their youth struck me: they looked like kids. Lonely, overworked kids desperate for love and family, stumbling upon it by divine chance.

We joked about their plush assignment in our area and asked if they enjoyed the beach. They replied that they weren’t allowed to go on the beach. I couldn’t imagine a more complete contrast than between these the two young men and my free-flowing, jovial, hugging, laughing Everyday family. We laid hands on them, prayed for them, and said goodbye.

Learning to love

Many of the most important parts of the Christian walk are simple. “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved.” “There is now, therefore, no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

At the same time, acting them out in our daily lives is hard! How many walk out or daily lives without a shred of condemnation?

The command “Love one another” is one of these simple, impossible commands. We all believe it’s important, but we regularly fail to walk it out. We generally don’t need another sermon on I Cor. 13 to teach us to love better; we need examples of what love looks like. At Everyday, my brothers and sisters have given me such examples, even treating a couple passing Mormons like good friends.

Three thoughts about love

Love disarms. We could have argued about theology, but they would have raised their missionary masks, their humanity lost to us. Instead, through love, we saw an incredibly rare sight: Two Mormon missionaries without masks. We glimpsed their deeper hearts, the hearts God longs to touch. When we lead off with truth, people retreat into a fortress. When we lead off with love, they put down the drawbridge and welcome truth in.

Love transforms. I’ve watched broken, hurting people walk into a small group for the first time and collapse in tears when loved. I’ve experienced change in my life simply because the people around me have shown love. Sometimes, we try to pound people into freedom from addiction: just stop drinking! However, when we love, people become whole then seek their own freedom. Mysteriously, when you accept people in their sin, they’re more likely to find freedom from that sin.

Love is fun. When we learn to do relationships well with people, we know more peace in our human interactions. When you host a BBQ and love runs high, we have fun! At times, love is hard: You have to forgive and do good to your enemies. But a whole community that loves effectively is a joy.

What your church must do

So, one thing your church must do is this: teach you to love better. Ironically, we more often focus on the preaching, music, and age demographics. But all history’s sermons will only help a little in this key part of Christian maturity; this growth must be walked out in community.

And a vital part of this (perhaps the subject for a future post) is learning to receive love better. After all, you can’t give what you don’t have.

And the ultimate result? What does God want to accomplish through our love? Nothing short of the salvation of the entire world. “By this, all men will know you are my disciples: if you love one another.” (John 13:35)

 

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By | 2014-04-29T10:32:20+00:00 April 30th, 2014|Devotional|3 Comments

These Two Opposites are Essentials of the Christian Life

Now that's what I call getting away.Sound and Silence

The Christian walk needs these two opposites: sound and silence.

Sound is the activity of life: working, music, caring for rowdy children, running errands. Sound encompasses raucous laughter and brothers dwelling together in unity. In sound, we sing loud praises to the King.

Silence restores. We sleep in silence. Atop a towering mountain overlooking God’s beauty, silence fills our ears. Silence is not simply the absence of sound: it includes the song of birds and wind rushing through trees. It includes whispered voices in a candlelit prayer meeting. (more…)

By | 2014-04-22T11:48:55+00:00 April 23rd, 2014|Devotional|Comments Off on These Two Opposites are Essentials of the Christian Life

How We All Experience God in Different Ways: A Story of Soaking

Because nothing says, "I love you, Jesus" like burning wax.A couple years ago, I began attending Everyday church and transitioned from a quiet, Evangelical background to the Charismatic world. And what an adjustment! Both are expressions of God’s universal church, despite many outward differences. The following is an experience from about eight months after I started attending Everyday. Hopefully it helps to bridge some of the gap between these two church cultures.

Invite to Soak

A couple weeks ago, a girl from my small group advertised a soaking night. Soaking is one of those new words I’ve learned at Everyday. It means something like, “To bask in the presence of God. Usually listening to music. Sometimes alone. Sometimes with other people. Maybe praying. Usually not sleeping.”

Earlier this week, when talking with a close brother about it, he told me, “You’re going to experience God in a new way this night, and all kinds of religious stuff is going to be broken off you.” I’d been at my new church long enough to know the right lingo: “I receive that.” I left off the optional “Hallelujah.” (more…)

By | 2014-04-18T10:53:52+00:00 April 16th, 2014|Devotional|3 Comments