As I sat in my deer stand one evening last week reading 1 Cor 13 I decided to pray for every member of our church. I do this often but this time I decided to simply thank God for each person’s individual qualities. I pictured each of you sitting in your unofficial “assigned seat” as I pondered your best qualities such as faithfulness, generosity, service, meekness, devotion, knowledge, love, wisdom and encouragement and praised the Lord for gifting each of you in these unique ways.
As you know from our study of 1 Corinthians, we are all equal but we are not all the same. Some excel in areas where others lack and vise versa. While I tried to honestly confess the individual strengths that I have witnessed in each person’s life some of the same good graces kept getting repeated. As I prayed I found myself thanking God for every person’s gentle spirit and love for one another. By the time I finished the prayer I realized that everyone here loves each other. Everyone has a genuine care and a real concern for his brother or sister at Lee Creek.
Now I have been saying and preaching this for years. Just last week in describing our church to someone I said “We’re all on the same page and we love each other. That’s what makes Lee Creek so unique.” But simply knowing something is true and understanding why it is true is two different things. This kind of mutual love and care is not something that is only taught or demonstrated and then everyone just goes out and does it. I’ve heard it said that the church takes on the personality of it’s pastor: “If your friendly, they’ll be friendly.” While that may be true to a degree, this is much deeper than that. You can’t make people truly love each other. It can be a real chore convincing some people to be just be civil. I know, I’ve tried.
This kind of love is only born from above. God must plant it in our hearts. Christ spoke of this kind of love in JN 13:35 as the indicator of true Christianity. Rom 5 says “because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” This love is more than a human emotion, it’s the work of the Holy Spirit. No man made program can achieve this level of commitment.
It wasn’t until I prayed with the single desire of Thanksgiving for every member that I realized why the entire church shares this love. God has worked in each and every one of us to accomplish this kind of unity. The real heart beat of every healthy church is not the pastor or the fine people that attend, it’s God. As we enter Thanksgiving and begin to ponder all the different “things” that we are thankful for, let us trace all these gifts back to their source: God.
My thoughts on this subject were quickly interrupted by a young 8 point that came trotting down the ridge toward me. Thank the Lord! I got him!