"For if in anything I have boasted to him about you, I am not ashamed. But as we spoke all things to you in truth, even so our boasting to Titus was found true." 2 Cor 7:14
I was led to this hidden nugget earlier this morning in my morning devotional and had to write and share. I have to admit, when I first read it I asked GOD what it was supposed to mean to me. He then had me read two verses previous and the one following and that's when I understood.
Paul had written this letter to Corinth in response to their treatment and hospitality to Titus. *Sidenote*: We really should study more about Corinth!! They welcomed him with open arms and so every boast (rejoice) made about Corinth was proven true. Titus was well cared for and loved even up to his departure. Isn't that how a church is supposed to be? Full of the grace and mercy that was so undeservedly extended to us? Welcoming those that enter in our "city" because they are sent or allowed by our Father? *Okay, another side note* Do you realize that if all churches who bear His name and seek after His will would love and provide for guests in this way, even those sent with ill will by their father, Satan, would be drenched in His love causing them to surrender to Him or flee?!
Too many times in the church building we are more involved in and worried about keeping OUR bylaws and making sure everyone who enters knows and abides by them as well MORE than keeping His command to love our neighbor and each other. What a sad situation we have put ourselves in. We are nowhere near hated for Jesus' namesake. That would mean we love everyone while accepting them as they are but hating the sin. THAT would mean we would be speaking His Truth in totality, not watering down to satisfy everyone's uncomfortableness with What His Word says. And THAT would mean while we have our own stand on certain things and choose to stand against "freedoms" that lead to eternal bondage for our family in Christ, we wouldn't presuppose this on those who have no idea of His goodness, love or sacrifice that was also for them.
What if.... we led our worship, our church service in such a way that even when someone in a particular sin walked in and heard the Truth spoken about that sin, they either cried out and surrendered to GOD or got up and walked away? What if there were no requirements of "minimum" tithe and offering amounts or judgmental stares at a person not in what we assume is the "Sunday best"? What if at the door they were so loved and well cared for that we received a letter from GOD stating a job well done, that His boast in us was found true?
That is essentially what this verse says to me, practically speaking. We have gotten away from caring for each other and guests that visit. He is calling us to go back to the simpler times and listen to His guidance on dealing with guests who visit us. Our pastors should not have to prompt us to greet an smile. It should not be awkward to take a collection up for a needy family in our midst, whether attendees of our church or not instead of trying to "help them help themselves". No! That's what this Christian community is supposed to be about! None of us should be in lack for so long that we give up or look to this lost world for help. We need to get back to it.
If GOD wrote us a letter about someone He sent to us, unbeknownst to us, what would our letters say?
Father, thank You for forgiving our repetitive sins and disobedience. We have been distracted with whose church is best and whose theology makes more sense and which laws someone isn't following. We have forgotten the simpler things, to love and care for. We are so worried about how outrageous someone looks, acts or dresses when they come in "our" church that we forgot that this is Your hospital and we Your Body are to aid in healing. Help us to get back to worship and work. In Jesus name. Amen!