Friday, May 13, 2011

Healing the Selfish

I think I've mentioned before, Mount Hope, the church we attend is the church in which I grew up.  I never thought I'd say it, but tradition, heritage, faith, memories, a large number of surrogate parents and former babysitters gathered under one roof is a unique privilege -- is home

Several years ago, however, I left my "home" when I felt I had been wronged.  Truth is, I had.  But God also revealed to me my role in the whole ordeal, and left me with the realization that this person had never let me down before, had never been given the chance to explain their actions (misunderstanding, bad day, complete failure to do the job) and like me, is not exempt from sin and the need for forgiveness.

It's terrible to say, but during the years in which I attended another church, or didn't attend at all, I kept one eye on Mount Hope.  Not because I was interested in what they were doing, or even praying for those who'd wronged me -- I was gloating, critiquing, watching as others left the church, just dreaming up scenarios in which the church had failed them as well, looking for anything to support my derision and waiting for the church's collapse.  Think Jonah and Nineveh.  Horrible, I know.  How can something I supported each week with my time and money, how can something on which I leaned so heavily, how can something that meant so much to my children and me, how can God's house -- suddenly become the object of such ill wishes?  Selfishness.

James 3:14 says:
But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. (ESV)

"Bitter jealousy."  I was jealous.  I wanted others to suffer along with me.  "Why should 'they' succeed, enjoy the benefits of my church, when 'they' let me down?  Why do 'they' stay in my home while I feel uncomfortable there?'  I wanted the church to skid out.  When people started wondering why and went looking for answers, my enemy would be discovered and suffer publicly.  Or at least, that's how I had it all planned out.

"Selfish ambition."  What would have happened if the church had fallen into ruin?  What would have happened if its membership dwindled, its finances dried up, its programs came to a screeching halt?  Hundreds of -- maybe even a thousand or more -- people would have suffered.  And why?  Just to make me feel better about my choice?  My vindication?  Oh, bitter jealousy.  Oh, selfish ambition.  Oh, black, black heart that makes its truth the only truth.

Praise God, I can say today that I love our church, and the people in it, and the Heavenly Father Who sees it all and is sovereign over it all, and the husband and children who brought me back to it.  God is still working on my heart each time I lay eyes on the person with whom I had issue.  In a practical sense, God teaches me that no man -- or woman -- is an island.  We need support networks even at church -- and not just one -- because even support networks are made up of imperfect people and are therefore, imperfect in themselves; even the best servants in this world are sometimes bound by this world.  In a spiritual sense, I endeavor to seek His Truth, the Only Truth.  I renounce legalism, judgement, arrogance everyday, sometimes more than once, more than twice...  The Holy Spirit works to show me failure not as something for me to judge, but something that is common to us all, and can only be worked for good through the love of Jesus Christ in us.  We all need Our Saviour, Jesus Christ -- the One Who is Truth, whose love redeems, changes, and perfects us all.  God is Good -- All the Time!

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