“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” Thomas Edison
As I sat for two long ten-hour days this week preparing my presentations for the Peacemaker Ministries’ conference in Denver next week it struck me that I was working very hard…too hard. As one who has retired from the regular routine of daily work (due both to age and a hearing disability), I have become accustomed to the leisurely pace of a typical retiree. Then I thought of the above quote from Thomas Edison. I don’t want to miss this opportunity because I wasn’t dressed right! Mentally dressed, that is, to be ready to stand before God’s people and proclaim the riches we have in Christ. As I worked I was struck again by the many implications of the Gospel that only believers can fathom as they ponder together the many ways they have been equipped to live radically different lives because of what He accomplished on the cross.
I am co-presenting this year with two friends. Tara, my co-author of Redeeming Church Conflicts, and I will present two workshop sessions based on our book. I will do another workshop with a fellow lawyer on the application of biblical law in the practice of Christian Conciliation. While I look forward to teaching I am always anxious because it is God’s Word at the heart of these messages and I desire to speak the truth of Scripture and not lead people away from God’s intended message. That is why I always write out my presentations. I am constantly checking what I plan to say with the Scriptures, reliable commentaries, and other references. This is work!
One part of what I plan to say briefly deals with the unique nature of the church. So, I thought since many of this website’s readers are interested in the church, for this week’s blog I share with you these few words that will be on my lips next week:
The church is a unique organization, one of divine origin yet populated by common creatures. The church’s purpose is also one of divine purpose—to worship and exalt the everlasting Creator and be the instrumentality through which the divine message of eternal salvation by grace through faith is communicated in this world. God chose what is common to do the uncommon—to be a people united by divine call and divine purpose for His glory and honor and for our shared joy.
Yet, even from the very beginning of this unique organization that we call the church—God’s “ecclesia”—the called out and gathered assembly—we have seen its organization and purpose affected by common conflict. What is common about church conflict is, of course, desire—one person’s or one group’s desire clashes with that of another.
That is what we see in the first account of church conflict recorded for us in Acts 15, Luke’s divinely inspired account of church conflict and its resolution, its redemption for the benefit of God’s people of all time and God’s ultimate glory as the church will be triumphant through all her sufferings and trials. She is, after all, being prepared for her big day:
“For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready.” Revelation 19:7
God’s common people, who are also ultimately uncommon, participate in the divine nature as the bride of Christ—the church—is prepared for that wedding day. And redeeming her conflicts is a part of the preparation.
For the glory of the Lamb,