I've been going through a study guide to Dallas Willard's Renovation of the Heart and yesterday a page pointed me to Romans 12. It serves as a checklist of what I'm looking for in a church. I took the list and applied it to the church I have considered leaving. Here's what I found.
4Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6We have different gifts, according to the grace given us.
We are certainly a diverse group and it's plain to see the gifts in many, as they are used to the benefit of the church body as a whole.
If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. 7If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; 8if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.
How can I resent when someone does one thing (that may seem less strenuous to me) and not another? Especially when it seems to help the church body live?
Love9Love must be sincere.
Seems that way to me.
Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.
We've done a good job of standing up for the good without being hurtful.
10Be devoted to one another in brotherly love.
Honor one another above yourselves.
I don't see very many signs of ego, except in myself.
11Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.
Our worship lacks "oomph" to be sure, but steadfastness has to count as fervor.
12Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
Same as above.
13Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
We do this - definitely!
14Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.
I don't know who those people are, so I don't know. I don't hear any complaining or finger pointing.
15Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.
16Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position.[c] Do not be conceited.
We could do this better, by not being awed by worldly status, but we are far better than most, I think. We have lots of people in "low position" in honorable service to the church.
17Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. 18If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
This is done, IMO, to an extreme. Doesn't anybody ever disagree?! But maybe the lack of peace is my own.
19Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay,"says the Lord. 20On the contrary:
"If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head."21Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
As I said above, I'm unaware of any need for revenge or of enemies. I guess we're going a good job of overcoming evil with good. After studying this list, I wonder "What has been the big deal?" and I think I'm been fussing over small stuff.
In a few moments after coming to the conclusion that my church is the right place to be, I also found the solution to my "small groups" problem. I've been looking for small groups to be a substitute for 12 step groups. But 12 step groups can meet the same need, and I already have them.
Finally, the question of where would I base my ESL mission work was answered as I sat with the Hispanic congregation yesterday afternoon. So many people asked about English class, and I said "January", so I guess January it is. I asked a young man to be a teacher and I got his number. He is fresh out of high school ESL and has pretty good English. I got the feeling that the pastor was happy to see I was finding a place of service for the young man.