Thursday, December 9, 2010

COMMUNITY LIFE - HOPE OF HEALING

Have you ever noticed that the people of God seem to have as much difficulty resolving issues in their lives as unbelievers? Gossip, immorality, harshness, addictions, deception, impatience, selfishness, etc., are often as prominent among those claiming to be of Christ than those who do not!

Throughout the years, I have counseled a multitude of people, mostly Christians. Although I saw the powerful hand of God move in many lives, it seemed that there were almost always barriers to the deeper levels of healing which I knew God intended. In fact, there are issues in my life that I just can’t seem to get beyond. I’ve often wondered if there is any hope of deeper healing this side of heaven!

Although I’ve frequently sought the Lord for answers, it wasn’t until recently that I’ve recognized the missing link:

there is limited healing in the Church,
because
there is minimal community among God’s people!

During my years of counseling, I quickly became aware that those sitting in pews are often hurting, but their Christian “family” typically had no clue. Because most of us have been programmed to believe that “good Christians” are supposed to “have their act together,” we rarely admit otherwise fearing that we’ll be perceived as a “back-slider” at best or not Christian at all! This apprehension leads to isolation and loneliness.

It’s common practice to wear the “plastic smile” for the weekly hour while in the presence of “family members” who know little about what goes on behind the scenes in our lives. However, it wouldn’t take long when living in close community, before the mess which often exists behind the fa├žade is identified. It is through this life of transparency that our unhealthy behaviors are more likely to be exposed and confronted for what they are. It is here where the Holy Sprit most often does His deep and abiding work.

There are always “sandpaper people” in life who are difficult for us to deal with. It is these precious individuals whom God places in our lives to expose our rough edges and whom He uses to smooth them out! While it’s bearable to tolerate them once a week for a few minutes; it’s yet another thing to “deal with them” on a regular basis! However, it is through the close and on-going fellowship of community with them that our sinful nature is exposed in order for the necessary healing to take place!

Gary and I recognize that there are issues in our lives that we’ve learned to “sweep under the rug.” Sadly, this seems easier than digging to the core and allowing the noxious invaders to be uprooted. However, in a community setting Family members would eventually bump the rug and the “piles of dirt” would no longer go unattended! Having them exposed certainly wouldn’t be pleasant! Yet, Jesus never promised that purification would be easy!

I believe that, thankfully, there is hope for pervasive healing this side of heaven! However, it may only be found in the unity of His Body. Father desires for the world to see His glory. Yet, John 7:23 reminds us that its fullness can only be recognized in the close fellowship of His Family.

I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity,
so that the world may know that You sent Me,
and loved them, even as You have loved Me.

The level of intimacy among Christians determines, to a large extent the level of healing within the Body of Christ. “Every healthy group is therapeutic . . . . Community groups should be therapeutic, inasmuch as they assist members to grow to the fullness of their life in Christ” (Hammett & Sofield, Searching Together, 24:3, 1996, p.4).

“People need to see a group of persons, motivated by the gospel and their love of God, who live in such a way that loneliness and alienation are dispelled” (Hammett & Sofield, PP.2-3).


Whole-Heartedly,
Bonnie

2 comments:

  1. Bonnie-
    Thank you so much for an early Christmas present-for reaching out to your friends at SimpleChurch. I'm afraid I have neglected all of you. I have been using Twitter (e4unity) to insert some of the themes of my blog. Your "whole-heartedlife" looks great. I was surprised to see some of my old friends in your library-Alexander R.Hay. One of the early books I got in my missions training was "The New Testament Order for Church and Missionary". Introduced me to a lot of great ideas about the church back in the late '60's. I have a post somewhere on your theme here-the longing for true community. May you have a blessed Advent season and prosperous 2011 in Him.w/ His people.

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  2. Tod, Welcome to the Whole-Hearted Life blogspot! May you be richly blessed! Thank you so much for your encouragement!

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