MERIDIAN — By Hank Garner
Special to the Star
I had a conversation with a friend the other day. They recounted an experience they had where a driver cut them off, then gave them "hand signals." To make matters worse, my friend followed the person straight to a church where they rushed inside because they were running late. The whole rest of the day was ruined for me. I don't know why I took it so personally or even why it upset me so. Then I realized that this person had a very unfavorable view of certain Christians because of this experience.
Out of this experience I started doing some soul searching. I came to realize that my life has been one bad example of Jesus after another. Now I am not here to bash Christianity, or the local church. I love the local church. I believe that God's mission is to be carried out by the local church. I also know that if I want to see change, I must start with me. It is in this spirit that I would like to set up a confessional of sorts. Not one where I am asking you to confess, but one where I would like to confess some things to you.
First I would like to apologize for being judgmental. I have too often looked at people on the surface and made up my mind about them immediately. I have far too often not invested enough in people to really understand them and see their hearts. For this I am truly sorry. I have many friendships with people that don't exactly fit the cookie cutter molds we make. I think Jesus would befriend people who are different.
Next I would like to apologize for advancing political agendas. We tend to gather in our camps of like mindedness and discuss issues without ever getting our hands dirty. It is very easy to carry a sign and picket. Much easier than actually befriending the person stuck in the situation and trusting that God has a better plan for them. The answer to our societal problems is not another political platitude, it is the church.
Sometimes I have been faced with situations where someone has asked for help and I did not give them the truth. I feared what people would think of me instead of telling them that the only answer to their problems was the life changing power of Jesus. I have let fear of man rob me of opportunities to share the love of Jesus with people who really needed it.
I have far too often fallen prey to my own hype and have not been a servant. Jesus said it like this in Matthew 23:11-12 "The greatest among you will be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted." Those are not easy words. If I want to be great, I must humble myself, or be humbled. It is really easy to believe our own hype and think that we have something great to offer the world when Jesus was the ultimate example of leading by serving.
If you look into one of our churches and you see people that are very flawed, take heart. That means there is plenty of room for you. This journey of following Jesus is not so much about being good enough. Jesus continues to show us that if it were not for His mercy and grace, there would be no hope for any of us. Please understand that we are not perfect, but Jesus is teaching us to love better each day. John the Baptiser said "He must increase, but I must decrease.” We hope you will accept our apology. We hope as you look at us, you see more of Jesus than of us.
Hank Garner is the Pastor of LifeSpring Community Church in Meridian. You can connect with him at www.lifespringcommunity.com.