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John Calvin puts forward a very simple reason why love is the greatest gift: “Because faith and hope are our own: love is diffused among others.” In other words, faith and hope benefit the possessor, but love always benefits another. In John 13:34–35 Jesus says, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Love always requires an “other” as an object; love cannot remain within itself, and that is part of what makes love the greatest gift.
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atpollard

Church is like ...

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I heard an interesting comment in Service today:

 

"Church is like porcupines huddling together in a storm. We are going to hurt each other."

 

We need to accept that, forgive, and move on.

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Hi Arthur, were you given a Biblical basis/reference for that sentiment as well? (because as I think about it, that's never been how church has seemed to me and, off hand, I can't think of a place in the Bible that paints such a picture either, IOW, as that which we should expect when we gather together in His Name)

 

The "storm" analogy, and the need to huddle together as a result, is undoubted, but that we will necessarily hurt one another because of being together is the part that I think I will have to take exception to (at least, that has never been my personal experience anyway). Though misunderstandings can certainly happen, the only place that I have seen "hurt" happen, even semi-regularly, has always been when sin and/or church discipline is involved, or when the backlash of some in response to necessary leadership decisions (that they wholeheartedly disagree with) occurs.

 

As God, through the pen of the author of Hebrews bids us:

 

 

Let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near. ~Hebrews 10:24-25

 

 

I am certainly not painting church as some kind of Utopian "dream world" (problems do arise occasionally, as I mentioned above), but problems and hurting one another has never been the expected norm, at least not in my case. Has your church experience been one of porcupines constantly bumping into one another?

 

Thanks!

 

Yours in Christ,

David

p.s. - just to be clear, I'm not challenging you about any of this, rather, I'm merely commenting, or giving you my perspective.

 

Edited by David Lee
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To some extent, how often you get hurt is going to depend on how thin skinned you are.

Have I ever been hurt by the words or deeds of a 'brother' ... oh yeah.

 

She (the guest speaker) gave a personal story rather than a verse with that particular point (although most of her other points had verses):

Her baby was born two months premature and was in the NICU fighting for its life from a brain infection. The church decided that she should have a baby shower as a sign of faith that the baby would recover and live. At the shower one godly church woman inquired about her baby's health with the question "So how brain damaged will your baby be?"

The speaker, who was quite humorous, told us she wanted to respond with "Not as brain damaged as you for asking me that question."

 

We are fallen beings. We are not called to be safe and hide from all harm. We are called to take chances and to expect to suffer hurt for those chances. However, like giving birth, the results are worth the pain.

It led into the point that Jesus left his comfort behind, to come into a world to be hurt by people he came to love because He knew the goal was worth it. The cross made possible the tearing of the veil that removed the separation between God and man. [she had verses to back up that.] ;)

 

While not offered by the speaker, I would point to the number of verses that encourage love for one another as an indication that there is a need to remind the body to love one another ... otherwise it would not be repeated quite so often.

 

[EDIT: ... and no offense or challenge taken. Keep me honest.] :)

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She (the guest speaker) gave a personal story rather than a verse with that particular point (although most of her other points had verses):

 

See any red flags in the above statement?

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See any red flags in the above statement?

Actually, I see many.

 

Setting that aside, do you disagree with the basic point that getting close to fallen people carries the innate potential for unintended injury?

 

Could that be why so many verses (which she didn't happen to quote because this was tangential to her basic point, but a funny mental picture) emphasize love and forgiveness?

 

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Actually, I see many.

 

Setting that aside, do you disagree with the basic point that getting close to fallen people carries the innate potential for unintended injury?

 

Could that be why so many verses (which she didn't happen to quote because this was tangential to her basic point, but a funny mental picture) emphasize love and forgiveness?

 

 

I don't like to call Christians "fallen" people. I prefer, "redeemed" people. The present status of Christians is a better description of who they are. Yes, I understand that they still act in sinful ways, and they can hurt others, but far from the norm, it's the exception - or at least it should be.

 

 

 

 

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Semantics.

 

The analogy, like all analogies was intended to illustrate a simple point, and if pushed too far it fails.

 

I found it a humorous way of urging people not to be so afraid of being hurt that they recoiled from taking chances and reaching out to other people, or from using the excuse that they were hurt once as an excuse for keeping your distance. Rather it is a simple call to embrace the fact that human interactions carry the risk of pain because even the best of us are still not perfect.

 

I am sorry, you didn't enjoy it. [shrug]

I guess that is why Ice Cream comes in so many flavors.

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Hi Arthur, were you given a Biblical basis/reference for that sentiment as well? (because as I think about it, that's never been how church has seemed to me and, off hand, I can't think of a place in the Bible that paints such a picture either, IOW, as that which we should expect when we gather together in His Name)

 

I gave this some thought and realized that you are correct that this is not how church should be, but can you really think of nothing that indicates that this might have been a problem in some of the churches?

Hint: Galatians 5:15 as just one example.

 

 

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I gave this some thought and realized that you are correct that this is not how church should be, but can you really think of nothing that indicates that this might have been a problem in some of the churches?

Hint: Galatians 5:15 as just one example.

 

Hi Arthur, I agree, the church at Galatia was in trouble, as was the church at Corinth (i.e 1 Corinthians 3). And I know there are churches today that are in various kinds trouble as well. But I still maintain that facing "porcupines" every Sunday morning and needing to constantly forgive one another as a result is not the intended norm for church (and it sounds like you are thinking the same thing ;)). Surely if our fellowship on Sunday morning is truly with the Father and with His Son (as it is intended to be .. 1 John 1:3 :)), we'll be like Nerf Balls around each other instead.

 

In Christ,

David

 

 

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The analogy, like all analogies was intended to illustrate a simple point...

 

I found it a humorous way of urging people not to be so afraid of being hurt that they recoiled from taking chances and reaching out to other people, or from using the excuse that they were hurt once as an excuse for keeping your distance. Rather it is a simple call to embrace the fact that human interactions carry the risk of pain because even the best of us are still not perfect.

 

Hi Arthur, were those your words, or were they the words (and intention) of your "speaker" (because most of what you just said, while a bit on the secular side, isn't bad when it's couched like that :)). If not, maybe you should have been the speaker instead ;)

 

I meant to ask you, what kind of a church do you belong to? I ask because of your use of the word "speaker" (the various churches I've been a part of use preacher/teacher instead expect, perhaps, in the case of an incoming lecturer/leader for something like a weekend conference). Is "speaker" what your denomination uses to refer to your preacher/teacher? I know there are some churches that do (like "Friends" churches, for instance).

 

Thanks!

 

God bless you!

 

--David

 

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Hi Arthur, were those your words, or were they the words (and intention) of your "speaker" (because most of what you just said, while a bit on the secular side, isn't bad when it's couched like that :)). If not, maybe you should have been the speaker instead ;)

 

I meant to ask you, what kind of a church do you belong to? I ask because of your use of the word "speaker" (the various churches I've been a part of use preacher/teacher instead expect, perhaps, in the case of an incoming lecturer/leader for something like a weekend conference). Is "speaker" what your denomination uses to refer to your preacher/teacher? I know there are some churches that do (like "Friends" churches, for instance).

 

Thanks!

 

God bless you!

 

--David

 

First, I loved the Nerf comment ... another good word picture.

I actually think that porcupines are somewhat fitting, because most of the time the quills on a porcupine lay flat and are perfectly safe and harmless. However, every porcupine still has quills and carries the chance of an accidental stick. The risk increases when we are frightened or feel threatened and lessens when we feel safe and loved. My church is full of mature Christians whose faith humbles me, and young Christans whose struggles remind me of paths I have walked and people whose efforts to be good apart from God make me want to weep, and people whose salvation I cannot imagine given the temperature of their hearts (fortunately for all concerned, I am the author and finisher of NOONE's faith).

 

So there are a lot of Nerf Christians in my life, and a few porcupines.

My mentor graduated from Moody and offered this advice: "Babies make messes." If you are going to work with new Christians, be prepared to deal with messes. God will clean them up, but it will take time. Until then, I may get poked a time or two.

 

 

Those were her intentions with that story and the verses that came after it. She was a speaker who weaves lots of homespun stories into her talk to reinforce the scripture verses. Another comment that she made was too many people say that if God wants to use them, then God will make it happen, but it is harder for God to bring someone into your path if you refuse to get out of bed. So if you want to be used by God then get out in the world and keep your eyes open for the opportunities He sends your way.

 

 

My church is an odd denomination to define. Technically, I guess it is an independent Pentacostal church. The Pastor was raised Moravian so the church has a lot of influences from the Moravian church and several current and former Elders are from Baptist backgrounds so there is a strong Southern Baptist influence.

 

With respect to the title 'speaker', that is more of a personal pet peeve of mine. Pentacostals tend to be sloppy with titles and it drives me crazy. The hair on the back of my neck rises when an "Apostle" is coming to speak. I want to challenge them on their definition of that word, because I have SERIOUS doubts that they have Paul's credentials for using that title.

 

In this case, I am not sure what official title the lady invited to speak might have had. Marsha was not someone to stand on titles in any event. Our Pastor is a professional singer and had to go to a concert in Texas or California (I am not sure which, he has about 4 per year). He asked his friend Marsha to cover the Sunday Service for him.

 

I know Marsha was born and raised in South Africa. She was the daughter of missionaries from the US and grew up one of only three white people in a city of 10,000 black South Africans. She says that growing up, her friends said that God had taken her out of the oven too soon.

 

I know that she worked as head of Women's Ministries for the Assembly of God (I don't know the details) and that she occasionally hosts women's retreats for a weekend. I know that she works as the manager of a retail store now, raised an adopted child from Russia and is a Breast Cancer survivor.

 

She told us this Sunday that her local pastor has given her and her husband the task of working in marriage counseling. After everything else has failed, they send the couples to them for one last chance before the church gives up on trying to restore the relationship. She told of a question they commonly ask the people when they first meet "On a scale of 1 to 10, what chance do you think you have of working things out?" She said that 3 is a common answer, but one lady said "negative 10". Marsha thought "It is going to be a long night."

 

(In case you were wondering about the Biblical application, she got through to that -10 lady by asking her about how they first met and their wedding. When you get discouraged in your Christian walk, remember when you first met Jesus. Remember why you started this journey, and you will find the strength to press on towards the goal of finishing this race well.)

 

So I used "Speaker" because I was unsure what other title might have been more appropriate in this particular case.

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