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by Cate Russell-Cole
11/02/2015 / Church Life
I've had some really bad experiences in churches. After some, I've become very cynical, and it's taken a lot to learn to trust pastors and my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ again. God made me stop and think recently. I was talking to someone about a local church I am not overly impressed with, and they, while admitting that the church being discussed wasn't perfect, gave a positive, encouraging response about it which countered my negativity.
I was taken aback. The response held such a strong contrast to my frustration. I marvelled at the grace this Christian was able to show. They were not nave or ignorant of the real situation, but they did not sink into judgement the way I had. They responded with grace in such a way, I came home and looked up the definition of grace to learn more about it. It is obviously something I need to work on
I have used the term 'graceful,' to describe people myself, but often in a feminine sense, rather than a spiritual one. It is one of those words you hear, but don't necessarily understand the meaning and function of. Surprisingly, the answer as to what makes you graceful is very simple. Grace is love, kindness and goodwill. It is an attitude of love that is the opposite of hurt, anger and frustration, and is described beautifully in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 "Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged. It is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance."
We're told as Christians to love one another (1 John 4:7-8 "Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is born of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know Godfor God is love.") If we can do that in imitation of God, we'll be more patient with each other's faults, weaknesses and failures. Love does cover a multitude of sins, and can get us through the bumps we experience as we rub each other up the wrong way in a church where we are all supposed to be behaving as if we are perfect.
My prayer is that I will be less proud, less self-protective around others, and that the Lord will soften my heart so that I don't further compound the problems I see by my own actions. I want to be a blessing, not a curse to someone else. May God teach us all to be as patient with each other as He is with us. If we are, then church and other Christians will be much less stressful, and that has got to be a good thing.
This article by Cate Russell-Cole is under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-SA 4.0)
Written in Australian English.
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