Monday, November 23, 2009

Homecoming

Yesterday was a rich day for Beverly and me. We were able to return to our 1st full-time ministry in Crockett, Texas to be a part of their 40th anniversary. The worship was great! I taught during the Bible class hour, and my son Josh hit a grand slam during the worship hour.

We served in Crockett from 1988 to 1993. Only 5 years. But it is incredible how deeply that 5 years impacted us. I made deep friendships there. When we occasionally go back, there are 3 guys in particular that are such good friends that when we see each other, it's like we just pick up from the last time.

I wish I had mentioned to the church yesterday about an "ah-ha" I have had. When I was in Crockett as a young, wet-behind-the-ears preacher, there was another preacher in town who was mean, who did not mind slandering people in public -- but who claimed to be the protector of "the truth." He made all kinds of false accusations about me, and I must admit that it really bothered me then. His tag line was, "Do I make you mine enemy because I tell you the truth?"

At that time, I was also a legalist -- thinking that what was REALLY important was what we did during our hour of worship each week, church organization, etc. It's just that my legalism and his were a little different.

Here is my point: Many in Crockett still feel badly for the way he treated me. But I have come to see that it is one of the most important events in my spiritual journey. I was headed down a path in which I could have ended up being somewhat like him. I don't think I could have ever been as mean and dishonest as he was -- but I could have been as "zealous" in my misplaced gospel. But seeing him and how UNLIKE Christ he was brought me to a crossroads. It made me realize that what the gospel is about is not those things that I had made of primary importance. The gospel is about a loving God extending His unbelievable grace to me. It's about me being allowed to journey with Him through life -- allowing Him to complete His work of transformation in me. To what goal? To become like Jesus. To be filled with the fruit of the Spirit -- love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Qualities that are amazingly absent in the lives of people who pursue legalism.

God works in mysterious, unexpected ways to get our attention. And looking back on those times, I am SO glad He got mine.

3 comments:

randy said...

It seems to me that once we get started on the path of examining legalism in the light of revelation there is no turning back.

Jeff said...

While I wish I would have made different decisions at points in my history, I also see evidence of how God can work through the mess I make to bring me closer to him.

Josh Ross said...

Well said. Crockett was a great place to teach us about God's extraordinary grace!