This is a true story retold in my own words:
Two families move into a community. Both decide to attend the local community church.
FAMILY A: goes to meet with the pastor of the church. Throughout the course of the conversation, the family relayed their feelings about their previous church to the new pastor. They complained how everyone gossiped about each other, how most were hypocrites, how the people weren’t friendly, how there were always problems and that the pastor handled them so poorly. Sadly, the pastor lowered his head and said, “That’s how it is here.”
FAMILY B: goes to meet with the pastor of the church. Throughout the course of the conversation, the family relayed their feelings about their previous church to the new pastor. They remarked how everyone was so friendly, how nice and sincere the people were, how they rarely had issues and that when they did the pastor handled them well. Excitedly, the pastor smiled and said, “That’s how it is here.”
It’s so easy to overlook the fact that we ourselves are the problem, or that our perspective on the problems is the real problem. Perhaps the following questions will help take a closer look at ourselves rather than others.
Questions Asked By the Deacons on the Annual Visit
1. Are you still in the faith of the Gospel as you declared when you were baptized?
This is a personal question. It’s about you only. Answer it for yourself.
2. Are you, as far as you know, in peace and union with the church?
This asks if you are getting along and trying to get along with other church members and leaders. Trying to get along is implied, although some confuse this. Synonyms for peace are reconciliation and friendship. Synonyms for union are harmony and agreement. You may be disgruntled with the status of the church, but if this is a righteous indignation then you will follow Scriptures such as “rebuke not an elder, but entreat him” (I Timothy 5:1) and “seek peace, and ensue it” (I Peter 2:11). Rebuke means to scold, tell-off, or reprimand. Entreat means to ask someone earnestly or anxiously to do something or for something.
3. Are you still willing to labor with the Brethren for an increase in holiness, both in yourself and others?
This asks if you are actually working hard to get yourself in order as well as to encourage others to do better. This is a tough question since we need to be in fellowship with the Spirit first in our own lives and then establish some relationship with others in order to help them.
I Timothy 5:16 “Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine.”
This is a great verse. So often we take for granted the wonderful work of those in leadership in our churches. I’m so glad I can be a part of a church with leaders who deserve and have earned my deepest respect. All of us can be thankful for those Godly men who stand in the pulpit every week and deliver a message which is poured onto their hearts by the Holy Spirit weeks prior. How do you feel about your leaders? How do you feel about your fellow brothers and sisters? If there is a problem, go talk with them personally and express all your concerns in an appropriate manner. This works, because when you come in the spirit of humility realizing your own need you will be able to encourage them, not by your piety, but demonstrating to them the grace of God at work in you. You will realize that those same problems in others only reflect the nature of our own lives and it is truly by the mercy of God we are saved and granted our own undeserved relationship with God.
You are the church of Jesus Christ. Live in it, edifying others, while remaining faithful in teaching doctrine in truth and love. May God Bless you.