Accepting Differences

I attended a local church Sunday morning pastored by a friend of mine I met back in Bible School in the 1970’s. It was refreshing to see some of the familiar faces from my past. As I participated in the service I was reminded of how much local churches differ from one another. There is so much variety in the body of Christ. The Father knows that with so many different personalities in the family, He must provide a wide range of styles and flavors in local churches to meet the needs of the whole body of Christ. We are to minister as good stewards of the grace of God. And pastors must lead their flock according to the direction of the good shepherd. As a result, no two churches are exactly alike. I remember years ago I had just turned a church I started over to another pastor and was attending a local church in my home town. I was involved in a traveling ministry and would attend when I wasn’t ministering somewhere. During the service I critiqued everything from the music to the lights to the carpet and the preaching. My attitude was well, if I were pastor, I wouldn’t do it that way! As I was going through these fleshly antics, the Lord spoke to me inside and said, who are you to judge another man’s servant? I knew right then that I was in trouble. I didn’t call the pastor of the church I was criticizing into the ministry. And he didn’t have to answer to me. He was responsible to obey God with how he conducted church life. I learned a valuable lesson from that experience. I began to pray for the pastor, and disregard thoughts from my carnal mind that would seek to critique everything. I learned that I must accept and love each member and each church in the body of Christ. I may or may not like the way things are done, but that’s not my business! My business is to obey God with my life, and pray for others and believe God for His best in their lives. Just because I don’t care for something doesn’t mean that it’s not good. It just means it may not fit me. So yesterday, while sitting in my friend’s church, I enjoyed knowing that he was obeying God to “do” church the way the Father directed him. And the Lord ministered to me while I was there! Let’s be careful not to think that our way is the only way, and let’s embrace the family of God, encouraging them, loving them, and praying for them.

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