We hear a lot about what "the Church" is doing wrong these days. It seems like so much focus is on the negative. And don't get me wrong, there are definitely things that are just downright broken there (which is not surprising since it's full of broken people but...I digress). Yes, these things are good to address and it's good to remind one another when things are gettin' a lil' crazy. But it's also good to talk about the times when the Church is acting like "the Church"....and doing it well.
Why, you ask?
Well, first of all it gives the glory to Christ- that He so richly deserves. And second, it's encouraging! When we hear positive things, it spurs us to want to do the same. So buckle your seat belts and get ready to hear about what God is doing!
I have seen God move in some absolutely incredible ways over this last year. I mean, I'm speechless (and that's saying something- no comments husband ;) ) But I wanted to specifically highlight a particular group that I have the privilege of being a part of.
It all started this last spring. A friend of mine and I were preparing to speak at a women's conference that we had organized at our church facility. As I was prepping for it, I felt like God was tugging at my heart to start a women's group that would meet in my home. Now, I had put together bible studies and stuff before, but this time I felt like He was telling me to do something different. To be honest, I wasn't really sure what it would look like. I just knew that He wanted me to start something that would:
1. encourage women
2. break down the internal barriers we have built up (i.e. denominations, prejudices, etc.)
3. would be a safe place for women to be open, honest, and loved.
God gave me an idea that instead of doing a study per se, to just have a topic or some questions to have an open discussion about each time we met. The intent behind it was to really have some great discussions that would encourage one another, point each other to Christ, but also make it so that if you missed a week or two you wouldn't be "behind". I even started a FB group so that we could continue the discussions/encouragements there when we weren't meeting.
But honestly....I thought it would fail. Really.
I remember feeling so strongly that I was supposed to do this...but not really believing there would be any interest.
But God had other plans.
Friends....I am sitting here today in complete awe and have been blown away time and time again at what God is doing through this little group. Women from all kinds of backgrounds, ages, and denominations are gathering together every other week to point one another to Christ. And you know what??? He. Is. Moving....BIG TIME!!! And let me tell you, there is no more exciting place to be than right smack in the middle of God's will.
Not only has this group brought encouragement to me and the women who are part of it, but it is growing into more groups! Women are feeling free to be real and honest, without judgement, to share their struggles and hurts, knowing they will be loved and encouraged when they do. Some women just sit and take it all in while others share. It's been great to have them there and then to hear their thoughts outside of the gatherings. Guys...this is now also birthing into more intimate one-on-one discipleship relationships between generations!!
Only God could do this. And I am so humbly grateful to be a part of it.
So why do I share this?
Please don't misinterpret this for one second. I don't share this to boast in anything or to take credit for even an ounce of this. Not. At. All. Because this was NOT of me...at all. This was God- absolutely and completely Him.
I share this for two reasons:
1. When you do something out of obedience to God, even if you think it will fail, He will show up. And it will rock your socks off!! So it's always better to obey....I mean He has a much better perspective anyways so we should just trust that. He is God afterall ;)
2. When the Church acts and loves like Christ, BIG things happen! And God is glorified!
It is still so amazing to me that something so simple is so effective. I think sometimes we get caught up in programs and events (not that they are bad at all- they're not) and we forget that simplicity works too. In fact, often times it works better.
Another thing....it's so rewarding to be honest. Yes, it can be scary to expose yourself and risk rejection and hurt. But it's worth it when you experience healing, encouragement, and love. Plus, when we're honest it not only points to Christ in a big way, but it opens the eyes and hearts of others to do the same. Is it always easy? No. But things that cost us something are often the most valuable.
So I hope this encourages you. Take a risk. Be honest with someone. Show love like Christ. Obey, even if it seems crazy. And let's be the Church and spread this Jesus-love like wildfire!