Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Let Love Be Genuine - Under the Microscope

Let love be genuine. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.  Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. (Romans 12:9-10)

Sunday at church, one of my friends smiled at me and observed that - "You gave Rebekah your Over-the-Glasses look." I offered some smart, tongue-in-cheek rejoinder and moved on without giving the comment a second thought. Later the exchange came back to me and I wondered what on earth she had seen that I had missed. Because I couldn't for the life of me figure out three things:
  1. That I even have an "over-the-glassses" look.
  2. Exactly what Rebekah had said or done to warrant my "over-the glasses" look.
  3. What my "over-the-glasses" look might possibly mean.
Obviously the conversation in question was 100% OK. My friend wasn't the least bit worried about me and Rebekah, and the communication protocols at our church are such that we'd have been the first to know if she was.

Granted, Rebekah gives me "a hard time" (in love) from the pulpit on a regular basis. That much I know. But what I didn't realize is the extent to which my responses in church have been noted and catalogued. This "Over-the-Glasses" look is evidently some kind of a classic!

No incognito for the clergy-hubby!
The fact is (and it's easy to forget), people really do notice the minister's family!

One reason I have been living outside of that particular loop of consciousness is the fact that I have never felt "under the microscope" here at First Brandon - even though we absolutely are. Additionally, the atmosphere of trust and mutual respect that pervades this community is so genuine that I've honestly never worried about how people look at me.

We've been here over 14 years now, and a lot of stuff has happened (teenagers... 'nuff said). But the congregation has been gracious enough to just roll with it all.

"Let love be genuine": 
So I'm wondering, maybe my church is exactly what the New Testament writer was thinking about when he penned the words "Let love be genuine"? In too many church settings it appears to be second nature to point the finger: at one another... at the preacher... at others in their denomination... at other denominations... at people in the world. But I just don't see any evidence of that at fpcBrandon, and I'm convinced that it's because the definitive theological value here is the practice of genuine love.

I've got to repeat that idea! The definitive theological value here is the practice of genuine love.

Today another one of my friends - Peggie - pointed out that, in Scripture, the role of "accuser" is typically associated with Satan. She said scripture points out that - because of Christ - the world is reconciled to God, and that "Our ministry is reconciliation - not condemning, finger-pointing, and mud-slinging."

In other words, the body of Christ is a place - the place - where we should be encouraging one another, where we fine-tune the ministry of reconciliation, and from where we're tasked to take the Imperative of Love out into the world; a world aching for the Good News.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. (2 Corinth 5)

Back to the microscope:
Come to think of it - vis-a-vis my "Over-the-Glasses" look this Sunday - I'd just had my hands all over a messy barbecue sandwich, and I'd gotten thick smudges all over the lenses. I think I gave Rebekah my "over-the-glasses" look because I couldn't see a thing looking through them!

It really is awesome that I haven't had to think about the fact that people notice pretty-much everything the preacher's family does. Instead, what I have noticed is the encouragement, and the prayer, and the support, and the respect, and the unbounded belief in us. It's the evidence of genuine love.

It's not so much a microscope as it is an amplifier. It's God reconciling the world, writ large.

In love - DEREK - a.k.a. "The Preacher's Husband"

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