So I was writing an email to a friend earlier and stepped away from the keyboard to get my first cup of Giant Eagle Marketplace Hazelnut coffee (I have been domesticated). When I came back, someone had picked up where I had left off with my sentence and finished it for me - this is what I read (the portion in quotes was the contribution of an unsolicited guest):
...but I am wondering about something like this where I can “act like a Jedi and show off some awesome skills.”
Now I don't want to embarrass Kayla, so I will not mention her name.
Instead of deleting her contribution because of being absolutely unrelated to what I was about to write, I decided to retain her literary contribution and explain to the reader what had transpired - trusting that the reader would benefit from the humor of the situation.
Something as simple as Kayla's creative input on my email reminded me of what the Apostle Paul wrote to his Corinthian friends (1 Cor. 3:6).
"I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth."
I like this passage. It's inclusive of both qualitative (planted & watered) and quantitative (growth) values. Like Paul (planting) and Apollos (watering), Kayla and I contributed to an email that was both informative and funny. But ultimately, the readers of the email, like the recipients of Paul and Apollos work, need to receive some life giving ministry.
There's seems to be a tendency in us (in the church) to not pass judgment. What I mean is, should we not in the church be evaluating sermons, leadership decisions, etc. in terms of whether or not there is "growth?" If there is growth, then God must be causing it, if there is not growth, then someone is not walking with God.
On one hand, it is a good thing to not pass judgment but on the other hand, it is a good thing (to pass judgment). Consider what Paul wrote to his Corinthian friends about their interaction with "outsiders,"
1Co 5:9 I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; 10 I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters, for then you would have to go out of the world. 11 But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler--not even to eat with such a one. 12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church? 13 But those who are outside, God judges. REMOVE THE WICKED MAN FROM AMONG YOURSELVES.
Unfortunately, it seems that someone hijacked the church somewhere along the way and pulled the old bait and switch. So instead of passing judgment on what happens within the church, we're now puttin' the beat down on "outsiders." While inside the church, we often do not pass judgment in favor of maintaining "unity." By the way, I'm not suggesting puttin' the beat down on people within the church, but instead, "speaking the truth in love" - telling one another truths in the love of Christ.
So Paul makes it clear, church is a place where God causes growth, but when there is not growth, its time to make some judgments to get back to church.
January 21, 2012