Spread Joy Up To The Maximum
Bring Gloom Down To The Minimum
“And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it.”
1 Peter 3:15 (NLT)
“How’s your church different?” My questioner didn’t seem to be interested in ‘the hope that is in me’, but I could hardly reply, “Wrong question, would you like to try again?” Living in a world of divided societies, adversarial politics, cultish individualism, and squabbling Christian denominations, my puzzled friend had made what was to her a quite sensible enquiry.
But the question seemed designed to produce a negative answer, one that would highlight disagreements and imply that other churches were wrong in doctrine or practice. It could confirm her underlying belief that all the churches are a mess and justify her resistance to God’s love for her.
Paul wrote to the Corinthians, a church well acquainted with division, that,”men have different gifts, but it is the same Spirit who gives them. There are different ways of serving God, but it is the same Lord who is served. God works through different men in different ways, but it is the same God who achieves his purposes through them all.” (1 Corinthians 12:4-7 J.B. Phillips)
Paul took pains to explain to them that the Church is a body and all the parts perform their own function for the good of the whole. But unity does not mean uniformity, and so within the Church there are differing gifts and differing functions. Paul was addressing the individuals that made up the Corinthian church, but the same principle could be applied to the denominations that make up the Body of Christ.
Why don’t I take a lead from Paul and look at the positive contributions that churches make for the good of all and ‘spread the joy and bring the gloom to the minimum’? As the chorus of that old song goes:
‘You’ve got to accentuate the positive,
Eliminate the negative
And latch on to the affirmative
Don’t mess with Mister In-Between’
And so, my friend, ‘I’ll tell you what gifts I see within my church, what it does well, and how it makes a contribution to the Christian community…’
Lord, Guide our thoughts to words that are like ‘apples of gold in settings of silver’ so that we can proclaim your praises.
Study by Hilary Buck