Friday, March 16, 2012

Place Your Name In The Place of Charity

It was on a Sunday when  I attended the services that I had for more then 17 years in Michigan. Many things had changed because the father had given the ministry for his son to run. So the son put his own flavor on how things are to function and I could tell that there was a difference in the house, including the way he preached the Word. I agreed with many of the things he was preaching and would have had a better grasp on the topic if I had heard the first part of the message the week before. The week I attended, the sermon had to do with marriage. The week before, it was for the Christian single. He used many analogies and comical short stories to keep the sermon interesting but it never clouded from the verses in the bible that laid the foundation about what he was referring.

He had made mention of last week's message and how Paul taught the lesson that it was better not to marry; nevertheless, he highlighted that he, the pastor, believed God intended marriage to be for everyone. I continued to listen with all of the rules he had for marriage and the needs for the women were much different then the needs for the men. He had listed steps for a happy marriage. I think there were 10 of those. He listed 5 needs men had to have in order for them to be happy and the first need was sex. But before that he listed the 5 needs women had to have to be happy. I couldn't help but to notice in defining certain words that list of needs went from 5 to an easy 20. I wondered if that was Freudian. When he finished many of the congregants were quiet but nodded with what they had to do to change. I guess it was just what they needed to hear.

When services were over I thought about the message and came to the conclusion that with the first part of the sermon, being what Paul taught for the singles, this message was perfect. The pastor had to have said last week that if you marry based on those sexual needs and not the love Jesus had for the church, yeah, the list should be as long as the one he gave. Its almost burdensome to watch every little teenie-tiny thing you do for the other person to be happy, but then again, when marrying for sexual purposes are in effect, following Jesus does come second. When putting Him second, well, you get what you get (trouble defined).

The message began with him stating, "family comes first." Once he spoke those words, I looked around at the congregants to see if I recognized any of my friends. It had been a few years since I had been there. I saw some people I remember, but those I fellowshipped with had moved on. Like I mentioned, there was a difference, it was a new generation of followers. A younger sect and they were happy that they have a ministry to develop and make something of it. I smiled and knew that the Lord had me move on because it was time to do so. The pastor as well as those who nodded with all they needed to change will soon find that family is second. God is first. Trouble will always be at foot when the equation is out of order.

Thinking about all of those rules that he hoped the listeners would write down, I wondered why he didn't start the message off differently - even for the second half. Why didn't he reiterate that with God all things are possible and just when you don't think you can't make it one more day without sex, God is there to give you exactly what you need to make it? Why didn't he make mention of the love of God that should be practiced from the very beginning of any Christian walk and how that practice will secure you to dwell in the secret place of the most high. Why didn't he put some kind of emphasis that we are to be content in whatever state we are in and people can't get you there if you intend to be miserable (Philippians 4;11 AMP)? Why didn't he mention that those sexual necessities is a mind game that the enemy has with us all and if we don't defeat it, that trouble Paul spoke of will be there (James 4:7 AMP)? Why didn't he just give the listeners more options then what he did?

Finally, he closed the sermon with the definition of love. The intensity of those words that wedding vows, romantic lyrics, and love letters are based paled having all of those rules in place. He said, "where the word, charity is, place your name." He didn't even read the verses. He expected for the congregants to read them on their own. How was that supposed to happen? It was like another set of rules. Goodness! See for yourself:

If Bill read the definition of love he would say, "Bill never fails. Bill is not fault finding. Bill is not self seeking. Bill endures long and is patient and kind...." If Bill never practiced any of this before he got married, how will he ever be able to do this now? This frustrated me just to think about as a single person; I could only imagine what the married people thought especially if on the brink of divorce. Yet the congregants nodded and agreed. And I suppose that was good.

I guess I was looking for something more. It was time for me to move on instead of trying to hang onto a ministry that has moved on without me. The teaching wasn't there for me and those that replaced the members I knew seemed to be content. I thought about that last message I heard from the church I use to attend and knew with placing a person's name in the place of charity, faith would have to be in operation for us to be as God is. He said be holy for I am holy (1 Peter 1:16 KJV). God is good (Mark 10:18 KJV). God is love (1 John 4:8 KJV). God is the greater one on the inside of those that believe (1 John 4:4 KJV). Therefore, if we strive to be more like Him, then we can also never fail, not find fault, not be self seeking, endure long and is patient and kind, and so forth. Yet, without God being first in all that we do, feeling frustrated makes sense. Interesting, isn't it?

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