Kamis, 23 April 2015

It's Not You, It's Me

It’s Not You, It’s Me

“I regret that too often my reflex is to look outward and identify potential problems with others without looking to myself.”
God has a multitude of arrows in his quiver that enable him to hit his mark. Sometimes he does so in surprising, even humbling, ways.
Over the last 18 months or so, during our Sunday morning service, I have frequently noticed the words on the screen were a bit out of focus. “I wish we could get that to sharpen up,” I would think to myself. Every now and then I actually would think about mentioning it to the slide team, but figuring it sounded petty. I would just forget about it.
Last week, however, I was pleasantly surprised. In middle of the first song, I couldn’t believe my eyes. The letters were crisp. “This is great,” I thought. “I didn’t even have to say anything.” Filled with the joy that comes from the unexpected small victories in life, I turned to look up in the balcony to see who was running slides. I wanted to encourage him after the service for his “good work.”
As I turned to look back and see who was there, I had to make an adjustment; my brand new glasses were sliding a bit.
Then it hit me: It wasn’t the slides. It never was. It was me all along! My eyes have been progressively getting worse and the words on the screen were getting more and more fuzzy and pixelated. I turned back around and felt about 2″ tall. Then I laughed at myself. The arrow hit the mark.
This moment serves a powerful analogy for our growth in grace. So often we recognize a problem but assume that the issue is with those around us before considering that we may actually be the ones who need an adjustment.
One person may complain that there are not enough volunteers in a particular ministry. But are they actively serving? If so, are they actively recruiting to come and help? If so, are they approaching people in a loving, understanding, compassionate way?
Someone may say that a church is unloving. But have they actively attempted to change the culture that they perceive? Have they spoken to others about this (because this is what love does)? Have they initiated relationships? Have they opened their home to welcome others in? Have they prayed for a change in this area?
A person may complain about a lack of conversions in the church and the state of society. But have they actively prayed for the ministry of the Word? Do they actively make and take opportunities for the gospel? Do they go out to others with the goal of bringing the gospel to them?
One may say that they feel disconnected at church. But what are they doing to try to connect with others? Do they open their home to welcome others in? Do they carve out time in their schedule to meet with and encourage others in the church? Do they pray for a greater sense of community?
We could go on and on. The point is clear: It is easy to observe problems with other people but it is difficult to see it in ourselves. You only have to be human to identify problems, but you have to be mature to work to fix them.
My reflex with the slides is comical and even somewhat understandable given the scenario of not having an eye exam for 20 years. However, I regret that too often my reflex is to look outward and identify potential problems with others without looking to myself. Call it a spiritual stigmatism or a log in our eye or whatever—the point is clear: maturity rolls up its sleeves and gets to work.  
Erik Raymond Erik is a pastor at Emmaus Bible Church (EmmausBibleChurch.org), a church plant south of Omaha. Converse with Erik on Twitter at @erikraymond. More from Erik Raymond or visit Erik at http://www.ordinarypastor.com/

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