Friday, March 6, 2015

Five Minute Friday: "Gather"

Our Mistress of Ceremonies for the Five Minute Friday is Kate over at Heading Home.  Hope you link up with us and join the fun.

Shall we gather at the river,
Where bright angel feet have trod,
With its crystal tide forever
Flowing by the throne of God?
-Lyrics by Robert Lowry
WARNING:  This may take longer than five minutes...
Lately the Lord has put me in the path of several of my Christian brothers and sisters who have given up gathering in fellowship with family of God.  It wasn't my place to ask why, though a few gave reasons unprompted.  Whether it be from pain or disinterest, knowing they are going it alone hurts me.  I've been praying for reconciliation and healing for them.
Hey, I've been there a couple of times.  I know how easy it is to get hurt and offended.  Church would be perfect if it didn't have people involved.  It would also be very lonely and boring.
I gave up the gathering during my years of undergraduate school.  I could lie and say I was too busy with school to attend, but the truth was that I didn't go because I had my knickers in a knot.  Those were some of the darkest, loneliest, and most painful times of my life.  Those were the times when suicide wasn't a mere passing thought, but a call to action that failed each time.  So I simply took to slowly trying to eat myself to death...
I warned you...
Several years ago, I had to make a very painful Church transition.  It would have been easy to stay home, eat popcorn and watch Whose Line is it Anyway on the 'net, but that wasn't the answer to the pain I was enduring.
Neither I, nor the Bible is saying that one can't go to heaven if he doesn't go to church.  However, it's very hard to enjoy the trip alone. 
So let’s do it—full of belief, confident that we’re presentable inside and out. Let’s keep a firm grip on the promises that keep us going. He always keeps his word. Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshiping together as some do but spurring each other on, especially as we see the big Day approaching.
Hebrews 10:24-25, The Message
As I said, I've been there.  People hurt each other, whether intentional or accidental.  However, we who are followers of Christ are a family.  Every family tree has its nuts and squirrels and every sheepfold has to fight off wolves.
OK, enough generalities; let Auntie give you some advice:
  • If you don't gather because of offense or hurt:  First, pray for the offender.  Second, if the hurt is so grievous that you can't yet be in the presence of the offender, gather at an alternate meeting.  Why?  It's much easier to make staying away a habit than regularly attending.  It's easier to keep a fire going than to start a new one from scratch.  Third, seek godly counsel from someone not involved in your hurt. That way, you won't be "gathering to yourself teachers, having itching ears"(II Timothy 4:3).  In other words, don't get advice from someone who's going to simply tell you want you want to hear.  Good counsel can help you sort through whether the hurt was intentional or not.  Praying helps you make godly decisions based on the truth of God's Word, rather than our own pain.
  • If you don't gather because of sin, strife, or corruption in leadership:  First, pray; always pray.  Second, wipe the dust from your feet and move on.  Don't "cast your pearls before swine" (Matthew 7:6) and don't "give offerings to the dead" Deuteronomy 26:14.  There are so many more good gathering places than bad ones.
  • If it's simply a matter of personal preference, as in "they ain't runnin' this place to suit me:"  Put on your big boy/big girl panties and suck it up.  I've had this conversation with many people over the years and I've had to have this argument with myself a few times.  My answer is always the same:  First, why are you bringing this to me?  I don't have any pull or say so in anything and I don't really want to hear it.  Second, if you don't have the balls to go to the person you're mad with, reconciliation is not what you want;  division and keeping strife stirred up is all you want.  Therefore, you are the problem.  Proverbs 6:16,19 - "These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him...he that soweth discord among brethren."
No, this stuff isn't easy, otherwise everyone would be doing it and churches and Bible studies would be full.  Take it from someone who's been there, it's worth it.  A word of caution:  There's no such thing as the perfect gathering this side of heaven, so please don't hunt for it.  You won't find it.  Auntie's not getting on to you;  I miss you.
Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.
II Corinthians 3:17 (King James Version)


  1. Love this line: "It's very hard to enjoy the trip alone." I totally agree - who hasn't been hurt by the church? But the point is not being hurt or offended. The point is to figure things out, forgive, and move on. Love your honesty filled with grace.

    1. Thanks, Annie. It's true. It seems that church is the only place that we will abandon if we get hurt. I've been offended by doctors and cashiers, but you don't see me not going to the doctor or the store. I simply deal with my end of the offense or go somewhere else.

  2. It is so hard to work past offense & hurt. Is it possible? Yes. Can it always occur? Not always. But may we not let time pass & quickly get ourselves back into a church. The enemy would love nothing better than to isolate & keep us away from gathering. Glad we were neighbors today at #fmfparty. Blessings!