Digging deeper into grace (05/09/2018)

I encourage you to become actively involved in a church or faith community, and I’ll tell you why:

Many times people have told me that they can worship God better in the beauty of nature than in a church full of hypocrites. I do not intend to disparage the value or nature, nor do I want to belittle the frustration with hypocrites in church (though none of us is truly the person we want to become). But I believe that the value of getting together regularly with other people (including those whom we struggle with) is of tremendous value to our soul.

The great novelist Pearl Buck comments, “The person who tries to live alone will not succeed as a human being. His heart withers if it does not answer another heart. His mind shrinks away if he hears only the echoes of his own thoughts and finds no other inspiration.”

Chuck Swindoll adds, “Nobody is a whole chain. Each one is a link. But take away one link, and the chain is broken…. Nobody is a whole orchestra. Each one is a musician. But take away one musician and the symphony is incomplete…. Cars are composed of numerous parts. Each one is connected to and dependent upon the other. Even if a tiny screw comes loose and falls out of the carburetor, it can bring the whole vehicle to a stop. You guessed it: We need each other. You need someone and someone needs you. Isolated islands we’re not. To make this thing called life work, we have to lean and support, and relate and respond, and give and take, and confess and forgive, and reach out and embrace, and release and rely.” 

C. Neil Strait comments, “Love is the ingredient that makes every relationship in life, whatever it is, a little better. Love has a capacity to mend the broken, heal the hurting, and inspire the despairing. Love that reaches beyond the misunderstandings and the failures is a love that unites and encourages. Such a love is one of our world’s greatest needs.” 

That’s why I encourage you to become actively involved in a church or faith community.

Consider the perspective of an unknown writer: “My mother used to ask me, ‘What is the most important part of the body?’

“When I was younger, I thought sound was very important to us, so I said, ‘My ears, Mommy.’ She said, ‘No. Many people are deaf. But you keep thinking about it.’ 

Several years passed before she asked me again. This time I told her, ‘Mommy, sight is very important to everybody, so it must be our eyes.’ She looked at me and told me, ‘You are learning fast, but the answer is not correct because there are many people who are blind.’ 

“Stumped again, I continued my quest for knowledge. Over the years, Mother asked me a couple more times and always her response to my answer was, ‘No, but you are getting smarter every year, my child.’

“Last year, my grandfather died. Everybody was hurting and crying. My Mom looked at me when it was our turn to say our final goodbye to Grandpa. Then she asked me, ‘Do you know the most important body part yet, my dear?’ 

I was shocked that she asked me this now. I always thought it was a game between her and me. She saw the confusion in my face and said, ‘This question is very important. With every guess you made in the past, I gave you an example why it was incorrect. But today is the day you need to learn this important lesson: The most important body part is your shoulder.’ 

“‘Is it because it holds up my head?’

“‘No, it is because it can hold the head of a friend or a loved one when they cry. Everybody needs a shoulder to cry on sometime in life.’ Then and there I realized that the most important body part is not a selfish one but one that is sympathetic to the pain of others.”

We need one another, and we are enriched by one another, so find a place to get involved.■

—Tom Tripp is the Pastor at the First Presbyterian Church of Colusa. 

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Tom Tripp is the Pastor at the First Presbyterian Church of Colusa. Pastor Tripp can be reached by e-mail at: tomtripp@frontiernet.net