A PRAYER FOR WOUNDED RELATIONSHIPS

Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. 1 Pt 3:8

Father I come to you this morning with a burden for broken relationships. This has been heavy on my heart for awhile now and the weight doesn’t seem to get any lighter. I know I’m not alone either. You made us to be in relationship with you and with others and when either is out of place the pain can be awful.

Lord, I worship you as the Triune Relational God this morning, thinking of the perfect union you have within yourself – Father, Son and Spirit – a Oneness that you have always shared and desire to share with us. You did not need anyone. You had all the love one could ever hope for, so much in fact that it was too much for anyone but you to contain. What an incredible love it is that you would wish to extend it to rebels like me. Father, you are the most tender hearted one of all. You did not repay evil with evil, but you sent your Son as a sacrifice of grace, with unity in mind, to make sinners into sons and daughters. Jesus you humbled yourself, even to death on a cross, bearing my sin in your body on a tree, that I might die to sin and live to righteousness. What an incredible example of love and what an effective act of affection to make us capable of loving you and one another.

I confess God, that in light of this wonderful, transforming truth, I sense the failure of my own brokenness all the more. I feel the fracture in my relationships. My pride and selfishness squint into the face of your radiant humility. I have not had unity with others in mind, so much as a priority of self-preservation and protection. I blow it more than I care to admit. Putting myself first, I do not consider well enough the hurts and heartaches of others. I am often unsympathetic in my actions and overly supportive of my own cause. When attacked I want to attack. When wronged I want to wrong. When hurt I want to harm. I am guilty of being quick to judge and slow to forgive; fast to speak and sluggish to listen. Unsurprisingly, I seldom believe I’m in the wrong. Lord, I struggle to image your peace making, people loving, self-suffering enduring love. I tend to blame others before examining my own heart. I conveniently overlook my own sin in favor of exposing theirs. I have often withheld forgiveness in attempt to regain a sense of lost control. And in all of this I reject the very gospel I excitedly embraced and desire daily to enjoy. Lord I need your mercies anew today for sure.

Thank you Father for your kind rebuke. Thank you for pointing out the backpack full of relational rocks upon my back. It’s a hard but caring lesson; to be reminded of your love through discipline. That’s exactly what a great Dad does when they care for their kids. I am reminded of your grace again today. Of how you do not look at my failures and condemn me, but see me in your Son and smile. You are not holding my sins against me; you have put them all on Christ. Jesus you know I am a relational wreck, that’s precisely why you came – to reconcile us into renewed relationship with God and redeem our flawed relationships with one another.

Spirit, help me to believe and accept the forgiveness and love I have as a child of God. Aid me in being more aware of my unhealthy ways of relating to you and others. Would you keep my eyes fixed on the cross and help me to see every relationship in light of the gospel. Lord, I know I’m not the only one. There are many suffering today from relational wounds of the past, operating out of present hurts and despairing of what tomorrow holds. Jesus I pray for those facing struggling friendships, breakdowns in marriage, difficulties with co-workers, tensions in homes and turmoil in their souls. Love us into gospel hope, and lead us into renewed unity. For your glory, Lord, I ask that you grant us tender hearts, humble minds and brotherly love that the world might witness the living God at work and our hearts would be overjoyed with lavish grace. Amen.

Advertisements

YOU ARE THE CHURCH

You are the church. Think about that for a minute…no make that two minutes. The implications are tremendous.

We just finished up our latest round of membership classes at our church. We do these throughout the year to help people learn about Jesus, lay foundations for following him as a disciple and also for people curious about our church and considering becoming members. I thoroughly enjoying these weeks. It reinvigorates me in the gospel and into loving our church and his mission anew. One of the big concepts we unpack is understanding what it means to be the church and not simply attend one.

If you are a Follower of Jesus Christ scripture teaches that you are not longer your own and no longer alone. You were bought with a price and became his bride. You were redeemed from the smallness of living for yourself into freely running through the vast eternal expanse of his kingdom. You were rescued from the isolation of sin and welcomed into the family to live in the peace and joy of being a son or daughter of God.

You are the church in Christ.

God himself said it was not good for Adam to be alone. Part of Israel’s discipline for ignoring God’s law and love was that they were exiled from living as one in Him to live by themselves in other lands. In the New Testament the sentence upon pervasive sin was the casting out of someone from biblical community in hopes that they might think about the effects of their actions on the body and its witness – a sort of spiritual time out from the Father that kept them from playing with others in grace.  The Lord takes being part of a redemptive community seriously. It reflects his glory and it benefits our good.

You are the church for Christ.

Is your church’s vision your vision? Are the church’s hopes and dreams your’s as well? Is the gospel preached on Sunday transforming your life throughout the week? Is the transformation you’re experiencing being passed on and shared with others around you? Churches thrive when they are all going in the same direction. Talking to one another. Spending time with one another. Traveling together toward the same destination – Him.  Encouraging each other toward holiness. Disciplining one another away from sin. Strengthening side by side with grace. Is it any wonder God compares the church to a marriage?

As members of one body we all play a part. Each with responsibilities to God and toward one another. Our walk and the walk of others is directly dependent on each of us doing our part to see the body take steps to move forward together.

You are your church and your church is you.

Before you think this is impossible, remember that we are not our own, and we are not on our own. God is in us, with us and for us because it reflects him. All that he asks of us he is equipping us to do. He is at work in each person that makes us each part of his body.

You are the church and He is in you.

 

I’d also recommend a short article Tom Rainer wrote a while back about some of the responsibilities and habits we should pursue to be and live as Jesus’ church, especially as it pertains to being members in a local congregation. You can read it here.