13 And now these three things remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.
I Corinthians 13:13
Planting a church has been on of the most revealing things I’ve ever done in my life. By revealing I mean that it has done the most to cause me to confront attitudes, beliefs and behaviors that I believed were good and correct, but in reality did not reflect the heart of God. Attitudes regarding what I believed to be “defending the faith” or “protecting the ministry.” What I justified as “protecting the ministry” really came down to me being afraid to allow others to have influence within the ministry. It was my fear leading me to micro-manage. This is one of the things that someone in my church lovingly confronted in me. I was afraid to let something be done that I didn’t dream up or didn’t have anything to do with in terms of leadership. Where did this come from? It’s a residual of the legalism I was taught growing up in churches. As one friend told me, grace changes a life in an instant – but after that it takes about a year to turn them into a Pharisee by attending church. How can I be a different leader to lead people to a grace-filled life of serving the Lord out of love for Jesus?
A second area that God is dealing with me in is the area of belief. We preach radical grace because the Bible teaches radical grace. Just read the book of Romans and Ephesians or Colossians and you can’t help but walk away with this sense that God’s love and grace is so much bigger than our sin. But, it’s cost me to preach this message of God’s love and grace. I’ve lost friends over it. I’ve had people leave the church. I’ve been branded as the “grace” guy. I’ve been told that I’m not teaching the full counsel of God (which takes 4 years by the way if you do it 5 chapters at a time and we are only 3 years old). I’m told I need to preach more judgment. But the law and judgment never saved anyone. Only grace saves and the fruit I’m seeing makes it worth it all. I’m seeing lives changed. I’m seeing people falling in love with Jesus in a real and authentic way because they know God loves them no matter what. I’m seeing people walk away from sinful lifestyles because they no longer see themselves through the eyes of condemnation, but through the eyes of grace.
As I’ve looked at these two areas, it really brings me to ask the question… what can free me from my fears, my attitudes and my false beliefs? Paul answers it correctly… love. We are told that perfect love casts out fear. Therefore, fear is not an issue of faith, it’s an issue of love. If I don’t believe the God loves me unconditionally. If I don’t believe that God loves me so much that He’s got my back even when I fail. If I don’t believe that God loves me so much that He wants to bless me, heal me, forgive me, restore me, renew me, sustain me, provide for me… then I will be ruled by my fears and I will rule others by fear.
However, if I believe God loves me… then it doesn’t matter what some joker says about me because God is for me. It doesn’t matter how blessed someone else is because I am equally as blessed by God. So… this next season for me is one of discovering just how much I’m loved by God. I pray that it will be the same for you.