Day 21: Protecting Your Church – 40 Days of Purpose-Driven Life

Purpose #2: You Were Formed for God’s Family

Point to Ponder: It is my responsibility to protect the unity of my church.

Verse to Remember: “Let us consider the things which make for harmony and the growth of our fellowship together.” — Romans 14:9 (Ph)

Question to Consider: What am I personally doing to protect unity in my church family right now?

[Read More] thoughts on Day 21 of Rick Warren‘s Purpose-Driven Life* especially about the long journey of the church.

I’ve spent less than forty summers on God’s green earth, but thinking about all the things that can happen to a church makes me feel a bit old. I’ve helped started fellowships, and helped them decide to close down. I’ve seen churches merge, and I’ve seen them split. I bear the scars of what I’ve endured, and the shame of what I’ve done — even though both ultimately rest at the cross.

Thus, I share Rick’s passion as he exhorts us to:

* Focus on what we have in common, not our differences.
* Be realistic in your expectations.
* Choose to encourage rather than criticize
* Refuse to listen to gossip
* Practice God’s method for conflict resolution
* Support your pastor and leaders

While I agree with all these in principle, I nonetheless fall short of them in practice. It is so easy to vent our frustrations and cynical criticisms without realizing the price we pay for a polluted atmosphere. I love the way Rick put it:

* Longing for the ideal while criticizing the real is evidence of immaturity
* Settling for the real without striving for the ideal is complacency
* Maturity is living with the tensions

Similarly, I am sobered by Rick’s reminder that “a critical spirit is a costly vice.”
When I judge another believer, four things instantly happen:

* I lose fellowship with God
* I expose my own pride and insecurity
* I set myself up to be judged by God
* I harm the fellowship of the church

Ultimately, the church is the bride of Christ. God protects her honor the way a loving husband ensures his children honor his wife, their mother. Can we do any less?

Prayer: God, you know both my love for the church, and the ways my flesh falls short of Your love for the church. Teach me to esteem my fellow believers, and respond to their weaknesses with encouragement rather than criticism. Help me to build up my leaders in prayer and service, that their jobs may not be a burden, but a joy. Thank you for my church here, and in San Jose, for all the ways that model your body. May we together continue to grow more like you. In Jesus name, and as His image, we pray. Amen.