Faithfulness In The Middle
So. Friends. If you’re reading this post, you probably know the situation, but just in case, I want to give some context.
Yesterday I posted on Facebook about a nomination at our church that was not for me. I shared about how I was feeling and tried to give permission to people to talk to people. It is within the context of face-to-face conversations that we experience all of the goodness that is the presence of Jesus.
Since then, I have had multiple face-to-face honest conversations, and I believe that more of these will be good. Hopefully you are having these conversations that are with people and not about people. These are the conversations where we experience catharsis in expressing hurt, confusion, and wonder. But these conversations are beyond cathartic, they don’t just feel good, they invite the presence of the HS to minister among us, to convict us, to encourage us, and to sanctify us. It is in these real, honest conversations where we experience forgiveness, reconciliation and brotherly love that can cover a multitude of sins.
Although it was not my intent to share in a way that would create a potentially divisive conversation around church leadership, voting, and pastoral connection, clearly it went there.
Since many or most of you have allowed me the grace of speaking into your lives, I hope that you will hear me out on this issue. In order to do that, I want to clearly separate what I see as two different issues. I referred to this in my post but was not direct about it and will quote that here:
Go to people and talk to them… Be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. Love them despite differing opinions. Unity is not uniformity.
I am so grateful for the outpouring of encouragement that what ministry God has been able to wring out of my life during my time here has been fruitful.
While not always easy, I want to distinguish between encouragement and support because when we are talking about church leadership, we can encourage each other and still be opposed to them as a candidate.
Most of us don’t have this skill set because we haven’t lived through it, but without a clear delineation, there is a tendency to talk about supporting through our voting as the means for encouragement.
I have not responded to most of the comments on that post because the conversation quickly shifted beyond what I had posted about, and I wanted to prepare this follow up instead.
So if it is ok, I’d like to speak into the voting process and the reason that we have it in our church. In Acts 1, there is a process of selecting an apostle to replace Judas where they cast lots. In Acts 15, there is ministry that is happening and they choose two men for a job and send them to do the work of Jesus’ followers on mission and part of the work that is done “seemed good to us and the Holy Spirit.” There are times in the mission of the church when there are people and there is work that needs to be done and God could use many people to fill those roles.
I am confident that our church board has sought God and presented three candidates that are completely capable by the grace of God to do the ministerial work that is marked out here in Oroville, myself included.
When it comes to voting (and I want to say this as clear as I can, including how I would appreciate the voting to be done should it be myself in that place), each of us will search our heart and pray and vote in the way that seems good to each of us and the Holy Spirit, and when those votes are given together, the leadership and nominee are able to discern what is meant by (in this place, at this time, with these Jesus followers) what seems good to the Holy Spirit and to us. There are too many people incuded in ‘us’ to get that without voting and so that’s how we do it. I implore you not to discourage anyone from voting in any way other than what seems good to them and the Holy Spirit. There is no campaign. There is no right vote. There is only what each of us will answer to God for when we give an account of our lives to him.
Let me say this loud and clear, I receive your encouragement. I will not confuse a promised or given vote with encouragement. I think that this post inadvertently created a safe space for people that were feeling isolated to share and vent, but when it comes to voting, this is between you and God.
I want nothing but for you to vote in a way that you can stand before God and have confidence in giving him an account of what you have done in your life.
As for you and me, we’re good. There are people that prefer the other candidates and think that they would do a better job than me. I have NO problems with this. We’re good. I don’t want it to be awkward, ever, because you are leaning in a direction in a vote that is not for me. Please, vote with where the HS is leading you. God knows the big picture, not me, and not you. We have to trust him. There is no candidate that is God’s gift to this church. God’s gift to this church is Jesus. Always has been. Always will be.
I want to say one more thing about faithfulness in the in between.
Guys. Ladies. Listen: We can’t let this process distract us.
Cast all of your cares on Him for he cares for you. Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow is going to worry about itself. There is work to dotoday, to walk as Jesus followers, to bring heaven with us, that this city may change because God’s love and presence are brought near in each of us. Don’t give up meeting together. Don’t make this bigger than it is. Be who God has called you to be every day, a redeemed citizen of heaven, carrying light and life to a lost and a dying world.
I love you all and appreciate your encouragement, and this may sound harsh, but friends, you aren’t my primary support.
We encourage each other, yes, and we should, we need each other, we are interdependent by God’s design, but Jesus is my support. Everything that I have is all that He has given me. Jesus is my foundation. Jesus is my cornerstone. Jesus is my capstone. Jesus is my everything. And he’s the same for you. Please, don’t make decisions out of frustration or fear or confusion. Don’t give the enemy a foothold. Speak well of people. As far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Love God and love people.
And don’t, please, don’t allow a scheme of the enemy to thwart you from the ministry of the body, the fellowship of the family, or the worship of the King. For heaven’s sake, be faithful in the in between. God is writing the greatest story ever told. We have the opportunity to get lost in the forest instead of seeing the trees right in front of us, meaning there are people that need love and compassion and grace and good news right in front of us.
We carry this lamp.
We steward this hope.
Do not let it go out, my friends.