Have you ever discussed something in theory, then had God show you the truth of your discussion in real life?
This happened to me this weekend. It all began on Thursday. My husband, who is a deacon in our church, had a board meeting for the church leadership. When he got home, he 'decompressed' as is often his habit after an intense meeting. While he doesn't share specifics discussed, or violate any confidences, he does trot ideas past me to get my take on them. Part of a healthy marriage, I think.
One point from the board meeting (and I knew this in advance, as the pastor emailed me the meeting itinerary to pass along to the DH) that we discussed at length was "Do you think our church is a healthy church, and if so, what criteria did you use when arriving at your conclusion?"
It seems for the past year, our church has spent a lot of time and burned a lot of emotional energy on this topic. And while I believe in self-examination, (We are told to examine ourselves in 1 Corinthians 11, to see if we are approaching the communion service in a manner that is worthy.) I was left wondering if all our examination of self was leading us to self-absorption. Were we focusing so much energy on checking our own pulse that we were losing focus of the God we serve and the community we are to reach? I couldn't help but think of Narcissus, peering into his mirror, with eyes only for himself. Were we teetering on that line?
That was Thursday. Saturday was our annual Church Cleaning Day. At eight sharp, we climbed out of the van and entered the church. We were met by only two people, Pastor and his wife. This was it? Five people (one was my 11 year old son, James) to deep clean an entire building? Where were the other twenty or so people we'd been able to count on in years past? The pastor had brought three dozen donuts, chocolate milk and orange juice. At least James was happy.
For the first hour, as I chased cobwebs, vacuumed screens and washed windows, I kept wondering, What happened? What did I do wrong? (as the pres. of women's ministries, I had chaired the meeting where the ladies decided what weekend the cleaning day would fall on.) At nine, another couple arrived.
The seven of us scrubbed, cleaned, washed and organized. All morning, I kept wondering, why aren't more people here to help us? Where are the people?
At about ten, another gal showed up and washed windows in the sanctuary. I was grateful, but still chewing on how this wasn't turning out according to my plan. If many hands make light work, well, I was getting flattened under the weight of the checklist of chores still needing to be done.
Then it hit me. I wasn't self-examining. I was self-absorbed. I wasn't offering my service to the Lord. I was wondering where everyone else was and why they weren't serving.
I believe the only effective examination is with yourself. I can't say what the church's spiritual health is. I can't say what anyone else's spiritual health is, save myself. As a church, we can look at the body as a whole, but it is more important to look at ourselves and see if we are growing, spiritually healthy individuals. Otherwise, I believe we turn from self-examination to self-absorption, always gauging everyone else's actions and words against how they affect us. That's when we run the danger of trying to make everyone else fit our ideas of how they should be...everyone needs to be a foot, or a hand, or a left elbow in the Body of Christ, just like we are.
So, I learned that I needed to worry a lot less about what everyone else was doing and a little more about what I was doing. Cuz what everyone else was up to, wasn't my monkey!
And just as we were leaving yesterday, another family came (with eight kids, who are great helpers!) and took over cleaning Sunday School rooms (the last things on the list.) I was so happy to see them, with their cheerful faces and willing hearts. But I was even more happy that I'd gotten my head on straight and had decided to do my best for the Lord, no matter if anyone showed up to help or not.