|by Alan Smith
Isn’t it sadly funny how some of our jokes remind us of a sad truth?
A man was stranded on a deserted Pacific island for years. Finally one day a boat comes sailing into view, and the man frantically waves and draws the skipper’s attention. The boat comes near the island and the sailor gets out and greets the stranded man.
After a while the sailor asks, “What are those three huts you have here?”
“Well, that’s my house there.”
“What’s that next hut?” asks the sailor.
“I built that hut to be my church.”
“What about the other hut?”
“Oh, that’s where I used to go to church.”
(By the way, please don’t write to remind me that the church is a group of people, not a building — I’m aware of that, but I think there’s another lesson to learn here.)
There are some legitimate reasons for “changing churches,” but there are also some people who change congregations every couple of years simply because they have trouble getting along with other folks. Someone at church said something that made them mad or one of the songleaders doesn’t pick out songs they like or the elders decided to change the time of services, etc. etc. The reasons go on and on. You can just about mark on the calendar when they’ll leave to go to the next church. It makes you wonder if they would be happy in a church by themselves; perhaps, like the man in the story above, they would move somewhere else after a while just out of habit.
Each of the New Testament letters is filled with instructions on how to get along with others in the church. There are a couple of reasons for that. It is important and it is difficult for all of us at times. But, it’s also what makes us Christians — this learning to get along with others by living with the character of Christ. Don’t just take my word for it, listen to what the Holy Spirit says to us through the apostle Paul:
Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another... Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion... If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. (Romans 12:9-10,15-16,18)
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