Recently I was reading in Ephesians 4 which happens to be one of my favorite go-to passage on the Church. I came to verses 15 & 16:
Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.
All of us, who have been in the church any length of time have heard how we are all made different and unique by our Creator and that is a good thing. In theory, we embrace the teaching; that it is our individual uniqueness, coupled with the whole family, makes us powerful and complete. It is natural that like kinds are drawn to each other. So in the Church, free spirits group together, thinkers and teachers group together. These groups often form church families. There is 1st church downtown where the relational pastors and teachers gather together. The 1st Pentecostal is where you will likely find the “tongue” speakers. You will likely find a community church in the suburbs where folks gather, who have been hurt by liturgical/traditional church and desire more “free spirit” atmosphere. I am sure I am missing a few other type churches.
I would like to bring up a question. What do you do when someone is part of your church and they love the family, yet they are “different”? What I mean by different; is, that they do not get their worship on, as you or the rest of the clan does. It is a natural thing for humans to want others to experience the good things that they themselves have experienced. However, you can step over a boundary line, when your strong encouragement begins to cause a disconnect in relationships. This is the place, where your heart that means well, is received as trying to manipulate.
I am speaking here from my experience in charismatic type churches. For example; Say your church has such a strong priority on prophetic gifts. You have been powerfully ministered to by the prophetic and have seen God use you in this way in others. It is safe to say, you are passionate about this gift. Your leaders likely have embraced this amazing gift and nurtured a culture where the prophetic is natural occurring. When God brings folks to your culture, who are either new to that gift or maybe don’t express themselves in worship the way the culture does, it is important that you learn to honor the Spirit of God in that person. As you encourage others in your passions and experiences in God “Keep Your Love On” is a perfect rule of thumb from Danny Silk. If you have created a culture where people have to conform to your culture or they are not welcome, then your culture may not be keeping its love on.
There are those in churches that say you need to dress a certain way to be in their family. Some groups may not verbalize it with their words, the importance of a dress code, but they say it with their body language when someone comes in not dressed to their standard. We God’s people need to be careful with our communication through the way that we act and our mannerisms.
Conformity is not God’s kind of unity. I think that to conform is to bow to manipulation for the sake of acceptance. The word says, “be not conformed to this world, but be transformed…”. When we conform to this world, we are trying to get accepted and affirmed the wrong way. This verse brings up another thought, in line with this article. I would like to suggest that we the church may be partnering with a the demonic when, through our communication we require people to conform to our, whatever, in order to be accepted. Manipulation is a form of witchcraft.
God really has made us all so different. “He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.” A healthy, growing body that is full of love does not happen just because we believe this teaching or even preach this teaching; it is a proactive work. We must partner with God in love as we honor each others unique make up. It is a sign of health when different ages, races, cultures can live together in a church family not because they feel a need to conform but because they feel honored for who they are.
I am closing this short article with a challenge. Evaluate the groups and/or church you call home. Do you feel free to be you in that group? Are others in the group honored and able to be themselves around you? What is the “special work” you are doing to create an atmosphere of love for the health and growth of the body? It is easy to place blame on others for the problems you see in your group. It may feel easier to leave your group and try another group.
God help us all to learn what it is, to partner with you in our own special work that helps the other parts of the family of God grow, so that everyone is healthy and full of love.