Reading time: two minutes.
What a great little word: Rid! “Disencumber” is maybe more poetic, but I like the forcefulness of rid. If it’s got to go, it’s got to go, so get rid of it.
I’m referring of course to Paul’s admonition to the Ephesians to “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice” (4:31).
None of that can help a church. Emotional wellbeing is about a clear, fresh, welcoming, joyful atmosphere among the people of God.
How well are we doing at rid?
There are certainly an abundance of hindrances to the Gospel mission in our age. Satan, the enemy, is hard at work. Extreme diligence is required to keep him at bay. The world, as Jesus foretold, is becoming increasing oppositional to the kingdom of the Lord.
But how tragic is it when our own sinful flesh, the petty squabbles, the personal preferences, the bitterness that arises when we don’t get our way, are the hindrances to the mission?
In Peterson’s The Message, “Deliver us from evil” is translated, “Keep us safe from ourselves and the devil.” Ourselves? I’m often afraid that the way we speak and act toward one another does more harm to our mission work than the attacks of the devil.
Isn’t it ironic that sometimes the biggest hindrance to sharing the Gospel of forgiveness with those around us is our failure to live the Gospel with those nearest us?
That’s where the rid comes in.
I really like the confession in the Office of Compline, where the leader confesses first and is absolved by the congregation, and then the table is turned. It’s a great picture of Pastor and People together living by grace.
There are no perfect Pastors, just as there are no perfect parishioners. We all smell like fish hauled in with the net; like sheep picked up and thrown over the shoulders of the Shepherd. He knows it our smell. We’re better off when we admit it.
When the “World’s Okayest Pastor” and the “World’s Okayest Church” learn to rid the congregation of bitterness, slander and malice, the mood is lifted, the atmosphere is transformed. Emotional distress is replaced with joy.
That’s the gift of confession and absolution. It’s emotional health. It’s my prayer that all of our churches be so disencumbered.
Thanks for reading.
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