I know everyone isn't a "cleaning freak" or "neat freak" or Mr./Mrs. Clean, but for the most part, I am willing to bet that most of us would agree we hate a sticky floor. Whether your shoes or socks stick to it, or even your bare feet, most of us will usually at least give that area a quick wipe. And without getting into some of my own personal obsessive traits, which there are quite a few, let me just say that sticky floors are gross!!
So how could it be that the other night Susan Ardale and I were happy to have a sticky floor in Fellowship Hall? A floor with a few small lemonade spills, ice cream spills, cookie, brownie and other sundae topping pieces on it and even some spills that I wasn't quite sure what they were, not to mention a few tables with some ooey, gooey conglomerations. Darn kids and adults too, they made quite a mess of our typically clean Fellowship Hall. And you know what, I want to personally invite everyone of them to come back and do it again, with one caveat, they bring that same energy and life they brought with them that evening as a collective group. I have been going to GUMC for 30 years and I challenge anyone to tell me the last time we had that kind of energy in our sanctuary, in Fellowship Hall, or just in our church in general on aFriday evening, let alone most Sundays. Without getting into the cause of this, which is another entry all to itself, I will say that our church band Revive got the energy source going with their concert that evening and it carried over well into the rest of the night.
Now let me be the first to say that there is a time for respect and reverence when it comes to the house of God, but let me follow that up with this, if I have to choose between a pristine, shiny and spotless sanctuary with 75-100 people in it, or less, or one that might experience a spill or two or three, with 250 people in it, singing, clapping and praising the Lord and listening to louder than normal music, I will choose the later every time. And as for Fellowship Hall, if we have to do a little extra cleaning, SO WHAT!! If that extra cleaning means we are opening up our doors to those that may have never heard the gospel, or have walked away from it, or aren't sure about it, then guess what, isn't that exactly we are commanded to do by God. In fact, isn't that what God expects of us? If we want to be known as the church that welcomes all, loves all and serves all, then we can't pick and choose. Did Jesus? We are all God's people, young and old, rich and poor, weak and strong, clean and neat and not so clean and neat.
Is our church changing? You bet it is!! Check out this change. On a Friday evening, yes I said a Friday evening, in our sanctuary we were encouraged to pull out our cell phones, we had bottled water (what???), some people were a little too loud at times during the service, there was some clapping, there was loud music and yes, there were a few messes. But........there were also 250 people singing, praying, worshiping and eating some darn good ice cream sundaes together and the Holy Spirit was alive and reverberating throughout that building. And if all that means we have a little messier church, then buy a few more buckets, cleaners and mops and let's do it again real soon!!!
If it seems we are crazy, it is to bring glory to God! 2 Cor 5:13
I'll guarantee you the first time I read that verse, I blew right past it. And since I've read 2 Corinthinians multiple times, it probably happened more than once. Then one day in a bible study that passage was referenced. It happened to hit me at a high time in my faith, when I was bursting at the seams with excitement and wanted to share it with anyone who would listen. And guess what? I got it!! In those times of utmost excitement in my faith, it was never about anything else other than to bring glory to God. I was nearly out of my mind with excitement and I wanted everyone to feel that. But in those times, we are often labeled as "Jesus freaks", "bible thumpers", or "they think they're better than everyone else". Guess what often times happens next? That inner fire is doused, worldly influences step in and the excitement is gone.
So what do we do about that? How do we not let that happen? Or, how do we get that excitement in our faith lives for the first time, or if we have it, keep it there? In honor of the end David Letterman Show, I'm going to give you my top 10 list on how we can do this.
1) Surround ourselves with people of faith. With positive people and with those who aren't self-serving.
2) Get involved, no matter what our age! Get our hands dirty. Help others through our church or community based service organizations. Retirement might be from work, but it's not from faith or from service.
3) Share, share and share some more. Share our stories of faith. Share our hopes and dreams as to the direction our faith is heading, where we hope it will go and what we doing to get it there. Share with others, like those that shared with us, to help us along in our journey. Share our ideas and dreams for the direction of our church. Share our time.
4) Step out of our comfort zone and don't be afraid of change, especially when it furthers His kingdom.
5) Read the bible every day and allow the amazing gift of His word into our lives and share (there's that
word again) it with others
6) Encourage others.
7) Use our gifts.
8) Be accepting of all.
9) Be a reflection of Jesus in all that we do and say. OK, this one is really difficult. How about, try our best in all that we do, every day, big or small, to be a reflection of Jesus.
10) Don't be negative and most definitely, don't be judgmental, even when it's something we may
not particularly like or agree with.
OK, I lied, it's really the top 12.
11) Make disciples.
12) Last and definitely not least, HIS KINGDOM FIRST!!
So here's a few questions I ask of us all. Are we excited about our faith? Do we get excited about going to Sunday School and/or to church? Does our faith energize and sustain us? Or, are church and/or Sunday School something we do because it's what we're supposed to do on Sunday? Is faith something we talk about, but not something we live?
In my next post, I'm going to reveal where I got my top 10, I mean 12 list. And no, it's not from some Christian web site, or amazing book and most definitely not of my own doing. I actually obtained those 12 ideas from an unbelievably amazing and inspiring source. One that has re-energized my faith to a new level and one I hope will do the same for you. Until next time, don't let anything douse your flame and keep that excitement alive for all to see!
Dave is the Discipleship Czar at Girard 1st. His unofficial title was given because of his love for Christ, and his consistent encouragement for people in their spiritual walk.