One of the worst feelings is knowing that you’ve been sweet talked, tricked into thinking a lie is the truth. Unfortunately for us, there’s no shortage of silver tongues in this world. Even more unfortunately, sometimes our discernment doesn’t seem to be as strong as our gullibility. We experienced all of these things first hand in a recent home project.
The story of what happened doesn’t matter as much as my reaction to it. We had been lied to, swindled, stolen from, and we’re still picking up the pieces now. I was angry and afraid, simultaneously livid and helpless. I didn’t understand how or why God could let all of this happen to us, and beyond anything else, I felt so, so stupid. So foolish. We had been sweet talked.
I’m writing this now in my backyard, watching honeybees gather pollen and nectar from what most people would consider weeds. This worker bee by my side sees something very different from the human eye, though. She sees nourishment, and a way for her to contribute to her sisters and queen back at the hive. Most people just see a nuisance to be sprayed with Round-up, an eyesore that ruins luscious gardens. She sees live-giving blooms.
She tends to each flowering plant tenderly, gathering the pollen in balls on her legs and drinking nectar to store in her honey-stomach, both of which will soon be placed in cells of comb back at the hive. Other workers bees will turn that nectar into honey, and the hive will be fed through the winter because of the collective work of the each individual.
Just as soon as the honeybee has reminded me of the collective efforts that are needed for the sustenance and success of a hive of bees, I’m reminded that our individual survival and flourishing as humans is dependent upon our churches. We need other believers to come alongside us when we’re in need, we need fellow saints to prop us up when we’re limping through discouragement and trial. We need the church.
Through the unfortunate events that we have experienced in the past month, we have been upheld by our church family in ways we couldn’t have dreamt. They’ve interceded supplications on our behalf before the Father. They’ve stepped-in and taken over for some of our church obligations. Merely hours after we had fired our contractor, they sent another one our way, one that they personally vouched for.
Despite the challenges and wrenching frustrations that we have experienced, God has cared for us through His people. This has taught me two particular things. The first is that local bodies of believers are here to uphold the hurting and provide for the downtrodden. By participating in your local church, you open yourself up to becoming a part of a family.Though this family isn’t held together by the thickness of blood of forefathers, the family of God is held together by the by the blood of Jesus Christ and bound by the indwelt Holy Spirit by the power of God the Father who chose to adopt us as His sons. The family of God is supernatural and eternal. Our local churches are a manifestation, albeit temporary, of this truth. Churches are meant to uphold their people, they protect their sheep. They grieve with the grieved, they rejoice with the glad. They pick up the pieces that sorrows leave behind, and they give themselves and their resources to the kingdom of God.
The second thing that I’ve been caused to remember is that local churches are avenues by which we can donate our time, resources, and selves to the upholding of fellow believers. These are tangible opportunities that we can seize to give ourselves to the work of God through devoting ourselves to one another. While we, as members and congregants, are absolutely receivers of the care and protection that the church offers, we are also just as much in the role of providers. We are sometimes called to give outside of our means, trusting in the provision of the Lord, but often we are called to give within our means. We give the time that we can spare, we give our money as gifts, and we give our resources for the sake of holding up our brothers and sisters in Christ, shielding them from the onslaught of tidal waves that beat their souls. We are simultaneously benefactors and benefitted.
One of my favorite quotes is from a book of liturgies entitled, Every Moment Holy: We thank you, O God, for the industry of the hive, which is like a picture of the Kingdom of Heaven, always at working in ten million places unseen. If God is at work within creation in ten million places, God is at work in His churches in ten million ways more.We are compelled by the love of Jesus Christ to give ourselves wholly to His work and His bride, the Church. We are also compelled by the love of Jesus Christ to be recipients of His grace at the hands and actions of His people. We need our churches. We need the family of God. Just like earthly families, there can be compounded sorrows at the hands of other believers, but the love that stands within us through the power of the Holy Spirit is thick enough to sustain the Bride of Christ from now until eternity.
The honeybee I mentioned earlier feasted among weeds. She saw the ugly, villainous flowers as food and providence. She wasn’t picky about the things that would bring her and her family life. She didn’t discriminate. May we be like her, seeing the wiles of sin and earth and Satan as a means to feed our souls with more of Christ Jesus. May we look upon ugly weed and not see the necessity of certain extermination, but instead see that God uses even the troubling, distressing, ugly things to bring us, and our churches, life.
Sarah Morrison is a staff writer for The Daily Grace Co.