Monday, March 08, 2004
"Being and making disciples in authentic community for the good of the world" - purpose statement of Cedar Ridge Community Church
I'm listening to a recent sermon from CRCC's Senior Pastor, Brian McLaren. He's talking about how encouragement plays such a strong role in the community of faith. I'm not usually much of an encourager. Most of the time I'm pretty harsh, especially on my kids. But you'd be amazed how much benefit comes from just smiling and encouraging them to do the right thing, rather than yelling and demanding obedience.
McLaren uses the passages from the OT where Moses is told that he's not going to enter the Promised Land, but instead he's supposed to be an encourager to Joshua as he leads the people instead. Not only would Moses not finish the job he'd started, but he was also responsible to make sure the next generation of leaders was encouraged and ready for the task at hand.
We are to be "an alternative social construct" where all kinds of people are welcomed and accepted and loved. Taking a look at the postscripts at the end of most of Paul's letters, McLaren points out that there are so many different people greeted and noticed there. Perhaps as Christians we get too judgmental, leaving behind mercy and grace - perhaps not. But I know that when I'm loved and accepted, I'm probably more inclined to jump in with both feet - isn't that the same for everyone more or less? People have questions. People feel distant from God. Can I live out answers, helping people find better questions? And can I be someone that makes people feel closer to God, not so removed and aloof? Can that be done while still being used to bring conviction and repentance to a world that's lost and in need of a Savior?
I've been fairly discouraged the past few days and weeks (not fishing for pity here, honest). I unsubscribed from a few email lists this morning - the discussions weren't doing anything for me, and I felt like I wasn't able to add anything helpful to what was going on. A couple of the moderators wrote to me this morning, making sure everything was okay. I can honestly say that the personal emails from real people really caring has meant more than all the theological conversations going on back on their lists.
My wife is an encouragement to me, even as she takes on so much of the burden of the household stuff. I want to be more of an encouragement to her and to the kids. We live day after day, wondering whether what we're doing is worthwhile, and hopefully encouraging each other to press on, to work hard, to obey and live righteously. Those are things that are more and more necessary in our marriages and homes. When I see her smile, or hear my kids laugh - I'm uplifted, and joy floods my soul in a way that needs to be experienced, not just talked about.