Returning to a church, after a period of disassociation with it, was prickly to say the least. On more than one occasion I broke down in tears before a church event worried my pants might be too tight, or my open shoulders too revealing, or my love of vibrant colors too distracting. It was good enough for God every other day of the week, but come church-time and my anxiety levels would go WAY up.
I remember one occurrence years back as a missionary overseas letting a good friend borrow a simple cross necklace cut from stone for the Sunday service. Never had the pastor called me out about it, but from her he demanded prompt removal of the “sacrilegious” adornment. During those same years I began to question the responses that my fur coat and black leather stiletto boots would cause when on furlough in the States. Crosses in one country and practical (YES, during the mid 90’s fur and stilettos were practical because options were simply quite limited in a post-Soviet country) winter clothes to guard against the elements in the other, neither one seemed worthy of condemnation to me; yet there I was internalizing it. Condemnation from others and self only increased in the years to follow and I ran from the church–stopped filtering things through the grace and Truth of God’s Word.
Frankly, I didn’t join First Baptist Dallas with stellar references and a winsome history. And initially, each day with God’s people was like rubbing salt in a wound, reminding me of my sins and making it very difficult for me to move forward without feeling deep shame. If it wasn’t for the kindness and salve of the Lord’s merciful presence which kept drawing me back, there is no way I would have continued subjecting myself to such discomfort while receiving grace, healing and wise instruction.
The thing that I LOVE about our church and His people though is this: we are not perfect. None of us. Not one. Nope. But the God we celebrate and follow is, and HE has called us to continue in fellowship with each other. He wants us to live out our faith together and live well showing love and grace towards one another. HE says accept one another—so we do. HE says to instruct one another—so we do. HE says to carry each other’s burdens—so we do. HE says to in humility consider others better than ourselves—so we do. HE says to encourage, pray for, confess to, serve, forgive, etc. It is our God, His desires, and our need for the Savior that continually draw us, His people, together. It is our gratitude to such a loving, wise God that brings us back to worship and serve, that encourages us to seek His corrective Word of Truth.
The people of God do not gather with egocentric motives to become a better member of society or to conform the world to our image. The people of God are blessed beyond measure—chosen and beloved by the Creator God Himself (1 Peter 2:9-10). They are the ones that, through faith in Jesus Christ, are completely forgiven, cleansed, accepted and adopted into the family of God. They are the ones who walk behind the Shepherd.
Know that the LORD is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Psalm 100:3
Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the one who confesses the Son has the Father also. 1 John 2:23
About the Writer:
Lyndsay has been many things in her past, but no career, experience, or calling define her more than the desire to follow after Christ in response to His gracious work in her life. At present, she teaches movement classes and works as a wellness consultant in addition to raising her daughter to know and love the Lord.