If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” Genesis 4:7
One of our famous family discussions has been over the question, “Has the church ‘healed’ more or ‘hurt’ more? And yes, please join the discussion!!! It seems the more discussions and even witnessing opportunities I have, it never fails that I encounter many that know of Christ (I specifically said “know of” and not “know”) who no longer have relationship/affiliations with the local church. When pressed, most are very honest about their lack of attendance. While some simply state, salvation is enough (summarizing), others confess to being lazy (summarization), close to half of the non-worshiping/attending portion are registered as wounded. They are people who have been injured in the line of duty, and not by the culprit many of you expect. While the media highlight the flawed action of a few pulpits and their affect on the pew, the vast amounts of injuries are obtained from “friendly fire!”
In our focus at Camp Exalted (#campexalted2016) today, we focused on the importance of the interaction on our small groups. In our story, God, our Small Group Leader is faced with the challenge of group and church life. He has Abel who is seeking God approval, going above and beyond to show thanks and reverence. He also has Cain who is doing the bare minimal, not going above and beyond and putting self before superior. In love, God correct Cains offering and accepts Abels offering. He does so not to highlight one person as better than or greater than, but to instruct all on what is expected and the level of what should be.
Though not condemed or expelled, Cain grew angry with Abel because he had chosen to go further than he himself had chosen to go. God being attentive reached out to His group member to encourage and not to condemn him. He says, “Is you do what is right, will you not be accepted?” It’s not that Abel is His favorite, but Abel had in this case made a better choice than Cain.
Sadly, Cain as many others decided that it would be easier to get praise from God by attacking and removing the one willing to go the extra mile as opposed to doing what is is right. This happens all the time. As opposed to looking at self and working to build a stronger relationship with God. Many choose to get closer be harming those who they perceive to be closer to the Lord than they.
I love how attentive to His people. He takes the time to instruct an to encourage. His criticism is constructive and his outlook was positive. He presented a hopeful perspective to a discouraged saint. He gives Him all he needs to correct and build his relationship with the Lord. We as group leaders must be attentive to our members. We must understand where they are and must be able to discifer what’s in their heart. It’s this knowledge of them that will allow us to aide them in becoming who God desires them to be.
I was bothered by the actions of our group leader almost more so than I was by the immature group member. God saw him downcast, spoke to the issues and thoughts He knew were in Cains heart, but didn’t speak to Abel regarding Cains potential or intentions. Why? Maybe He understood the rage in Cain was so great that his plans or intent would not be thwarted? Who knows?
Sadly, despite addressing Cain, he killed Abel. I wondered to myself, how many Cains are in our churches? How many people have a list of casualties attributed to their name? Many be our churches should track the data, produce the stats and have a church ranking of Cains so we can protect the Abels of the world? Maybe we need a special recovery team, designed to heal and restor Abels? Maybe we need to have their blood cry out via testimony on a specific Sunday to warn other Abels and convict current or future Cains? Maybe we should call out their names after the “sick and shut” in list and call them the “wounded while worshiping or serving?”
Sadly, Gods addressing of Cain reveals an important fact, anyone can be Cain! Our choices and decisions make us Abels! We must choose to please the Lord in every aspect of our lives, and as opposed to measuring ourselves by others, but must solely respond to the instructions of Him, using His Word as a measuring stick to determine our place in Him.
Could it be that the empty seats on Sunday are not reflective of the heart or relationship that our communities have with God? Maybe our empty seats are a result of an unaddressed or uncontrolled population?