Lessons from the Church Merger (3)

Finally, the church merger makes us see things differently, especially in these two (complementary) ways:

1. Learning how we should see God

Our view of God is influenced by our beliefs and how we practice those beliefs. One of my most favorite books is J. B. Phillips’ “Your God Is Too Small”, in which he wrote about how our narrow orthodoxies and orthopraxies paint a small God-in-a-box.

As the church merger talks went on, I got a sense that what the book was saying was true. It was an eye-opening experience to realize that for there are other Christians who emphasize more strongly one aspect of God’s character in their church, and then, by comparison, you realize you have also been over-emphasizing another aspect of God’s character. For example, you realize that some Christians emphasize how God cares for you and takes care of your needs, while you yourself might over-emphasize how God is a CEO running a disciple camp to get Christians to be soldiers.

The truth is God is both of those, and more. The advantage of the church merger is when you bring Christians together who had been over-emphasizing certain aspects of God, now they’re in an environment where you realize that God is bigger than their respective orthodoxies, their respective orthopraxies, their respective smallish biases, etc. Let God be God.

2. Learning how God sees us

It’s a true cliche that if you look to man, you’ll fail, but you must look to God. However, in our everyday life we do have to interact with other fellow humans, so we do have to “look towards man.” I’ve learned that there’s no escaping it, unless you learn to look through God’s viewpoint.

It’s inevitable that we compare ourselves with one another. When 1 Cor 12:15 says, “If the foot says, “Because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body,” it addresses the case where you compare and you feel inferior, while 1 Cor 12:21 says, “And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; or again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.”” to illustrate when we compare and you feel superior.

But in God’s viewpoint, no one is inferior nor superior. Compared to God, we are all infinitely inferior. And yet, it’s His design to put us together: “But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired.” (1 Cor 12:18) Moreover, “… God has so composed the body … that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.” (1 Cor 12:24-26)

I think this is one of the biggest lessons of the church merger. We are ridiculously different, but yet when we recognize God’s design in putting us together, we can care for each other, cry with each other, and rejoice with each other. And we can only do that perfectly if we see each other through God’s viewpoint.

Lessons from the Church Merger (1)
Lessons from the Church Merger (2)
Lessons from the Church Merger (3)

Epilogue

In the last few weeks of my pre-merger church, because of the recognition of all these lessons to learn about church, me and Dickson put together a Sunday school course talking about “What is church?” It turned our we spent more talk time talking about “What is not church?” instead… I taught two of the classes and I’ll be posting my slides in the next few days…

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2 thoughts on “Lessons from the Church Merger (3)

  1. Tim: I don’t know how to give eprops … but you deserve a bouquet of them at least!  I’ve shared your blog with my merger task force.  We’d love to hear more … and thanks for your prompt response to my email.  Lutheran Linda in Ontario.

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