Have you ever been hurting; I mean really hurting, and God’s Word and other’s remarks, kind and true as they might be seemed hollow? I certainly have. When I was falsely accused of child abuse, I heard and received notes with the typical, Christian platitudes, from well-meaning people wanting to encourage me. Sadly though, after my son was taken away, I was terribly angry at God. I quit reading his Word and was, therefore, no longer open to God's words of love and comfort for me. Underneath my spiritual façade, I silently argued away Christians' words or simply dismissed what they expressed all together. Their words may have been true, but my hurting heart rendered them meaningless. To my surprise though, God had plenty of nonverbal means for communicating His love as the hands of His body reached out to our family. For example:
When hundreds of Christians who knew us from several different states, tied up the judge’s fax line for days in order to write in support of our innocence, I felt encouraged in spite of the judge’s annoyed response.
When about thirty people from my church showed up at the courthouse at 8:30 A.M., for what was supposed to be a one hour hearing to determine the fate of our family, and then stayed in the lobby even though the hearing continued off and on until 7 P.M., just to be with us during our darkest hours, I felt awe.
The list goes on and on, but you get the idea.
To hear the complete story-- & the exciting conclusion only learned recently click here.
"The Julin Story--A Struggle with Man & God"
You can also read more from my last blog post--"Vantage Point")
Arguing with God’s Word and ranting at my Creator over His apparent lack of love for me and my family came naturally from such painful circumstances. However, I could not argue away or deny the demonstrations of His love that His Body showed me in His name. My church lived out John’s words in 1 John 3:18 when he said, Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. Eventually, those loving actions broke through to my hurting and angry heart and changed my perspective of God’s love in my time of crisis.
Hebrews 10:25 says, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.? What if, when the crisis came, our family was not already being obedient to that verse? We would have cut off God’s primary tool for showing His tremendous love towards us when our need was the greatest.
Not to pretend that the true church is perfect, for I too have been hurt by believers within the Body, but this has proved an exception, not the rule. The media, however, has methodically highlighted acts of hatred and dissension among the ranks of Christians, portraying for all the world to see the instances where the church has miserably failed to uphold this law of Christ. Many of these instances are perpetrated by people whose actions demonstrate that they only claim the name of Christ rather than truly believe in it. John 13:35 says, By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. When we display Christ's love, first among ourselves and secondly to those perishing around us, we have a powerful impact. How many of you were saved because of the love that a Christian or church showed you? The body of Christ shines beautifully in a selfish world when it selflessly demonstrates true acts of love.
When the church fails at following the perfect design for the church, understandable hurt abounds. I know this must grieve God. So often, the solution is to give up on being actively involved with the body of Christ, perhaps even justifying it by watching a far more skilled preacher on TV than could be found locally. Not to negate the importance of good teaching and worship, but that approach assumes that the reason God commanded in Hebrews that we gather with other believers is merely to learn more of God and to worship Him. However, according to Hebrews 11:25 the stated reason is to "encourage one another," which proves difficult in front of a television. Galatians 6:2 says that we are to carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.
Why does carrying each other's burdens fulfill the law of Christ? It does so because according to 1 John 4:11-12, since God loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
In other words, the local church provides opportunities
to demonstrate the tangible, visible proof of God's love
in the lives of people.
Therefore, I'll now really go "from preaching to meddling," as the saying goes; pew sitting for an hour or two a week to mark off some religious duties' list doesn't cut it either. To fulfill the law of Christ we must be actively involved with a group of local believers. 1 Corinthians 12:27 makes this clear when it says, Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. I know it can be difficult to find a good church, where you can get involved, but I promise you; it is well worth the effort to be obedient to the Lord's perfect design.
I have witnessed countless instances where the church worked beautifully together to be God’s hands of goodness, love, and strength in the lives of people. Throughout the years of my life I have personally experienced this on many occasions, in several different churches, and in three different states. Because I have profoundly experienced the impact that acts of Christian love have when one is suffering, I am passionate about seeking out opportunities to be a part of ministering to others within the Body. I could fill an entire book with the first-hand stories of the body of Christ working magnificently as the earthly representation of God's love. God purposed for the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, (to) grow and build itself up in love, as each part does its work (Ephesians 4:16). Functioning according to God’s plan, the church has a tremendously positive impact on people’s lives.
I wonder, if you would join me in honoring the Lord by sharing your own personal story of a time that you were the recipient of a demonstration of love from Christians and the impact it had on you?
Much negativity pervades the reports where Christians are concerned, and yet I know that I am not the only one who has witnessed and experienced God's people doing exactly as He commanded. Will you help me this week to change that by taking a few minutes to testify in the comments section below of your own example of God's hands of love at work and then share it on Facebook for others to see? (This isn't to glorify individuals but the Lord, so I encourage you to leave out people's names.) Feel free to also add other thoughts and comments as well.
(Much of this post comes directly from chapter 8
of my soon to be released book,
When You Can't Trust His Heart--Discovering the Limitless Love of God.)