Fr. Jose Poch

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Community Can Be Messy

I just read a brief excerpt from a new book being offered through Intervarsity Press titled Community is Messy. It reminded me of the life and leadership experience of Moses as he led the people of Israel through the wilderness of the Sinai to the Promised Land. It also reminded me of so many of my own experiences as a church Pastor for just about 30 years, serving in two church communities. 

The author of this very interesting and insightful book writes: 
“Community is messy because it always involves people, and people are messy. It’s about people hauling their brokenness and baggage into your house and dumping it in your living room. What do you do at that moment? The moment you realize that the people you’ve committed your life to are messy becomes the defining moment of your leadership.” 
As you can tell from this brief quote, the author has in mind and in fact focuses her attention primarily on the leadership of Small Groups or House Churches. Perhaps each of our House Church leaders should pick up a copy of this book, but it also speaks about churches in general and any place where we live and share with each other in community.
I have often been reminded of St. Paul’s true and now famous words to the Ephesians about spiritual warfare in his Letter to the Ephesians 6:12 “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Very true, ultimately these “principalities”, “powers”, ‘rulers of the darkness,” and “spiritual hosts of wickedness” are our true enemies who influence so much of the evil in our world and even in us. But I am also reminded too often that these “spiritual” enemies we are warned about come in the form of other human beings who verbalize insults or lies against us, who act un-brotherly, who stab us in the back and hurt us deeply with their betrayal, and who wound us deeply in mind, body, and soul. I often say that the spirit of Judas is very much alive, even in the church.
Why can’t we just come to each other and speak in brotherly and loving fashion as our Lord Jesus Christ has taught us, even if we don’t agree with one another? So much confusion and disagreement can be cleared up if we had the Christian spirit of reconciliation and of harmony. Our daily prayer should be “Lord, don’t let me be used by the Devil or his spiritual forces, the enemies of my soul, to hurt another person. Guard me from being the cause of spiritual warfare in another.”
Community can be messy but it does not have to be, not if we allow Jesus Christ to reign in us, to teach us and to transform us into His image. 
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Vote God into Office

Well, we have just voted President Barack Obama to a second four-year term in office as President of the United States. To those who voted for him, congratulations! To those who did not vote for him, my condolences! I recognize the bewildering disappointment that some feel when elections, whether for a president, senator, congressman or congresswoman or a Proposition goes in a different direction than we voted. I have to acknowledge that I still don’t fully understand how someone can win the popular vote and lose the Electoral College vote (not that this was the case in this recent elections). Some States though smaller in size seem to have more Electoral College votes, I don’t understand this either.

On the day after the Presidential elections, as I was beginning my day in prayer with the Upper Room, a devotional magazine I use to direct my Bible reading, I was led to the book of the prophet Isaiah, chapter 26. I was reminded that God is indeed the Hope of any nation and that men will come and will go whether kings or presidents (Democrats or Republicans or any other party), they are just mortal men, fallible and finite. Only God is immortal, infallible and infinite.

Isaiah writes a song that Judah is to sing about “that day” in which a new Zion/Jerusalem (God birthed not man built) will come and a new nation will spring forth, a “righteous nation”“Open the gates that the righteous nation which keeps the truth may enter in. You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.”
In two places we are told what we are to do, in verse 4; Trust in the Lord forever, For in YAH, the Lord, is everlasting strength.” The strength of the new city is God. The Lord of this new righteous city “is everlasting strength.” The strength of our city/nation is rooted in the strength of our God and our trust in Him alone. In verses 8 and 9, the song continues: “Yes, in the way of Your judgments, O Lord, we have waited for You; The desire of our soul is for Your name and for the remembrance of You. With my soul I have desired You in the night, Yes, by my spirit within me I will seek You early; For when Your judgments are in the earth, The inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness.” These verses remind us that prayer for our nation, and all who govern our nations should be lifted up “in the night” and “early” in the morning. Our eyes should and must be set on our God who is our “everlasting strength.”
St. Paul makes the same recommendation to the Christians in Ephesus in 1 Timothy 2, “I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” Please notice the missional and evangelistic character of Paul’s exhortation, there is a reason and purpose behind the need to pray for leaders. We should heed attentively the call of Isaiah to “trust in the Lord forever” and the exhortation of Paul to keep our leaders covered in prayer.

I pray that whether you feel a winner or a loser in this election that you keep your eyes on the Lord and that we all learn to trust in Him and Him alone. 
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