God uses our church family (team) to encourage us, to give us a place to learn and grow. He tests us with the ups and downs of church family life, we knock some rough edges off each other, we lift and support each other. We can run alongside each other sometimes in the slipstream of a stronger runner, helping us up if we stumble, slowing the pace when we need to rest, helping us over the hurdles, keeping us on course and lending a hand when needed. When our church team is working well, every person on the team is here to help you succeed in the life and mission God has given you.
Back in August when the All Blacks were playing Australia in the Bledisloe cup, Scott Barrett was given a red card and sent off for a bad tackle. The All Blacks went on to lose the game 47-26. At the team review Barrett wanted to apologise to the team for being a major factor in the loss, But Steve Hansen the coach said mate, it's a team game, things happen. And that was it. A good team offers a supportive, we’ve got your back, rather than blaming, it’s your fault we lost.
Because our church team is not perfect “things happen”. We are all sinners, human beings with stresses and strains, and room to improve. Our imperfection, tendency to make mistakes and the occasional offense we give to others may cause us or others to ask are we really saved? Are we really Christians? Or maybe we become disappointed and disillusioned with ourselves or with the church. But as someone has said, Christians are not perfect, just forgiven!
Sadly, the people of the church have never been perfect. God’s team often seems to be made up of misfits rather than star players. If we look at Joseph, Rahab, Moses …. we find flawed characters who are redeemed by God, They were chosen not because they are stars, but because God loved them despite their flaws. The religious leaders of Jesus’ day did not evensee him as someone God would have on the team and said, ‘This fellow is always eating and drinking far too much. He’s a friend of tax collectors and “sinners.” (Luke 7:34) I am so glad Jesus was and is a friend of sinners. If he only mixed with the good and virtuous, what hope would that be to the many who are lost and among the least. Our lives are like a spiritual construction zone. As someone has said, Be patient, God is not finished with me yet!
This makes the “one another verses” important for our guidance, inspiration and encouragement. Typically, we are commanded, “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.” (Romans 12:10) and “Live in harmony with one another.” (Romans 12:16). Verses like these encourage us to work as a team who seek the best for others and try to be the best we can be with God’s help.
Today I encourage you to think about our church team, about who supports us and who we support. To think about our attitudes and responses to others. I encourage you to think about God’s team, the help and support God brings through the church and how you can belong to God’s family. Perhaps it is time to think about the different teams in our church. Which team might you join and how might you contribute to and serve in the life of the church?
When is our church team at its best?
When do I feel I am part of the team?
What are the strength I bring to the team?
Rev John Malcolm