Our Comfort Zones 

I have come to see that there is a new challenge before us - one greater than any we've experienced so far. We may have met the challenge of questioning long held beliefs. Many have even taken the huge step of leaving the believed security within the church system. We might have even thrown off the yoke of 'my way is God's way.' All those were tremendous growth experiences - however, I think one of the biggest is yet to come.

Stepping away from the "One True Church" leads us into close contact with other seekers of Him... and they most likely don't look or act the way we are used to. They define Christianity and service in ways that are comfortable for them, just as we do - yet probably very differently from our definitions. As we type, or talk, or gather together in groups with these folks, we may not find much of the physical aspects of getting together  in common. They sing different songs. They may do things during songs that make us uncomfortable. They may treat a prayer as a group activity when we are used to utter silence. They may concentrate on verses or concepts that we've never paid much attention to. We just really don't feel much in common with them.

In the beginning we may think that we are miles apart from these folks - and not particularly interested in closing the gap! :) But amazingly - as you talk... you find yourself encouraged in NEW ways - grasping new concepts, your faith grows in directions it may not have before. We are all very strong in the areas we have studied and discussed for umpteen years.. but there is SO much more out there! And the lucky folks are the ones taking the step to surround themselves with these folks who can show it to them.

In the beginning our lights shine on the differences we may have, but time passes and the the spiritual commonality shines through. Love of God and dependence on Jesus becomes apparent and you find that you really aren't different at all. Perspective takes over and you see what is REALLY important in the word "family." I really feel this challenge is a big one - but completely necessary. The early Christians dealt with it big time - in my larger ways than we ever will.  And they did deal with it. We are going to have to learn to ACCEPT, to ENDURE, and what it really means to LOVE. All these folks aren't easy to get along with.. some of them have PROBLEMS! :) (gasp - say it isn't so!) Some have sinned and are sinning in ways that may be new to us. And some actually are NEEDY and we find that we have to "put our money where our mouth is" as far as taking personal responsibility to help others. <Oh, it is so much easier to just drop that check in the collection plate, sometimes!>

But, the only way to learn to accept others - is to get out among them. I don't think God is going to take over your heart while you stay at home and wonder. You must make the effort to find these children of His - children who need what YOU have to give ... and then you'll see that you really needed to get from THEM as well.

God has a great plan - we just have to get in step with it! As he said in Jeremiah - For I know the plans I have for you, They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.