I confess that I enjoy this show. I enjoy it immensely. I initially watched it once just to see if it was worth watching and what struck me, sadly, is that the way the characters behave is all too often true in the church. This show is funny, well written and makes me look at the clashing of relationships in the church in a new way.
Yesterday afternoon I watched Q in which Annie Potts and the author of the television series were guests. Neither felt that the show was damaging to the image of the church, (after all the church can damage its image and credibility by itself.) One of the things that Annie Potts said that really struck me is that we all know people who are like these GCB’s, we see them everyday, in society, in the church, in the mirror. How true.
As a minister I am sometimes frustrated that people in the church, myself included, often don’t behave as if we are the redeemed of the Lord. Yet, as Annie Potts said yesterday in the interview, Our Lord came to save sinners, not good people.
What strikes me though in the show, is the patience and tolerance of the minister. He seems to understand that these are ‘hurt people, hurting people”. When I get frustrated with the hurt people and the sometimes petty squabbles that hinder true ministry I go back to the book, “The emotionally healthy church” and it reminds me to look past the behavior to see the person that Jesus sees. I am not always successful, but it does help my perspective. We are a people redeemed by grace, yet sadly we allow so many things hold us back from being who we were really created to be–people who walk and talk with God in a deep, deep fellowship.
It is only as we spend time in study, prayer, meditation, worship and silence that we open ourselves to God working within us and among us to change our minds and hearts and behavior so that we more truly reflect the person God calls us to be. In the meantime the practice of patience will be required from all of us. If God is patient with me, then surely I can be patient with others.
Bergan and Schwan write:
We have been thought of and loved by God with the same thought and love He had for His Son. We, too, have been created in His image. We are sons and daughters of God and as such are to respond to God with love, the love that originated with God, for he first loved us.
Love tempers the ways in which we relate with one another. Graham Standish tells the story of a monastery, that had lost it’s vision, passion and purpose. As a result they declined in members, no one wanted to join the order and pilgrims no longer came to study and be inspired. Then one day a traveler stopped in and enjoyed their hospitality for the night. As he left he said to the Abbott, “I have a secret to share with you. One of the monks is Jesus living among you.” Well you can imagine what this news stirred up in the monastery. Who could it be? They had no idea. But they started treating one another differently, giving each other more reverence and respect and as a group they became more loving. In the end, as they grew more loving, they grew in numbers as more recruits came to join the order, and more pilgrims started coming once again to learn the ways of God from the monks.
In short, when we reflect the love of God, we attract those whom God seeks to save. I can see those changes happening among the GCB characters. I can see those changes happening in the people in the congregation and I hope those changes are happening in me.
This is the prayer I used in worship yesterday. May it be effective in my life and may it be a source of grace in your lives.
O gracious and holy God, give us diligence to seek you, wisdom to perceive you, and patience to wait for you in order that we may know you more fully.
Grant us, O God, a mind to meditate on you, eyes to behold you, ears to listen for your Word, a heart to love you, and a life to proclaim you, so that we may love you more deeply.
Forgive us, O Lord, for everything that spoils our home life: for the moodiness and irritability that make us difficult to live with, for the insensitivity that makes us careless of the feelings of others, for the selfishness that makes life harder for others.
Forgive us, O Lord, for everything that spoils our witness for you; that we so often deny with our lives what we say with our lips; for the difference between our creed and our conduct, our profession and our practice; for any example that makes it easier for people to criticize your church or for another to sin.
When we think of ourselves and of the meanness and ugliness and weakness of our lives, we thank you for Jesus Christ, our Savior. Grant unto us a true penitence for our sins. Grant that at the foot of the cross we may find our burdens rolled away. And so strengthen us by your Spirit that in the days to come we may live more nearly as we ought. Through Jesus Christ, our Lord, Amen. (The Worship Sourcebook)