A few weeks ago at one of our meetings we were divvying up various tasks left to be done before our winter event. It just so happened, on this particular day, that I needed to leave early for an appointment. One of the tasks not yet assigned before my departure was…you guessed it…standing here in front of you to announce the event. And so I learned a valuable lesson…never leave a meeting early where any form of public speaking has yet to have been assigned.
Pastor Tom asked, if possible, could I perhaps weave in some testimony about this week’s sermon topic… Securing the Home Through Discipleship… and tie it into our Women at the Well event.
The passage that ended up laying the foundation for what I am led to share this morning came in my reading of 2 Corinthians chapter 2. Paul is writing to the church about an internal affair. There’s been an offense and he is urging the believers at Corinth to forgive the repentant sinner and affirm their love for him. The primary reason for this being for the glory of Christ as His disciples…but then also comes a warning: Paul tells them they shouldn’t be ignorant of the enemy’s schemes.
There is little the enemy likes to do more than take us apart, individually and corporately, not from the outside, but from within. Relationship and community is at stake. Discipleship is at stake. The fracturing of a “secure home” is at stake.
The fracturing of home is a topic that grieves my heart because I have watched it happen. I have lived it myself. The past 5 years our family has seen quite a bit of this type of malady. We’ve seen it in our extended family, in our former ministry, in friendships and in the church body. One implosion after another. People that I trusted the most, walked alongside, wept with, served, poured out prayers for and loved suddenly drew a line in the dirt, stepped to the other side and shot a barrage of fiery arrows. Arrows of pride and offense, arrows of indulged feelings, arrows of gossip, and arrows of unforgiveness. And I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t confess that I know I shot some arrows right back. But it devastated me. Where I found myself as the dust cleared was a place I really didn’t like. In my hurt I remember praying, “Jesus, I love you, but I really don’t like people anymore. And I know it is impossible for both those things to exist in me if I truly am loving and following you.” Afterall, Jesus tells us that our two greatest pursuits are loving God with all that we are and loving others. I needed to go back to Discipleship 101.
I recently read a definition of a disciple as this: “Applied to Jesus, a disciple is someone who learns from him to live like him – someone who, because of God’s awakening grace conforms his or her words and ways to the words and ways of Jesus.”
In my story there has been healing. There has been forgiveness. There has been reconciliation. And all glory goes to Jesus for this. God has used Cedar Grove in this process of my personal restoration and discipleship. I am so thankful to be part of a church home that is ever learning from him to live like him. Discipleship, conforming our words and ways to those of Jesus is indispensable to a home that will not crumble. But please hear me when I say we must keep Paul’s 2 Corinthians admonition in mind. There is nothing benign about walking in our flesh and not by His Spirit.
Being involved with Women at the Well has been one more of those redemptive places for me. In John, Jesus tells the woman at the well the Father is seeking true worshippers…true disciples. Our quarterly women’s worship night is just that. A room filled with women who are seeking to worship Him alone, to love one another, and to encourage each other in our walks as His disciples.