Ages ago I read a magazine article with a title something like, “How Will I Be Able to Stand Heaven with All Those Annoying People There?!”
I chuckled at the title — and connected with it.
There are people within the church — both our local church and the broader global community of Christians — that will annoy us. I know there are people who annoy me. And I’m sure that some people find me quite annoying as well!
Part of the practice of the discipline of fellowship is coming to terms with this reality — accepting it and appreciating what it offers us.
Like sandpaper, these people rub us raw . . . and, if that process is surrendered to God, it can result in positive spiritual change in our lives. These sandpaper people reveal our sins to us: our pride, our arrogance, our self-centeredness, our lack of patience. They magnify for us how big God’s love is; how generously and deeply he cares for the people we don’t have the capacity to even like. They set a challenge before us:
Will you serve? (Galatians 5:13)
Will you honor? (Romans 12:10)
Will you forgive? (Colossians 3:13)
Will you pray? (James 5:16)
Will you welcome? (1 Peter 4:9)
Go ahead. Picture that Christian you know who annoys you. Be honest in prayer about your feelings. In all likelihood, you won’t suddenly start enjoying time with this person. He or she will probably continue to annoy the heck out of you. But as you think of that person, invite God to reveal the hidden opportunity that person offers you — the opportunity to grow in character, to rely on the power of the Holy Spirit, and to intentionally choose a fellowship mindset.
Be warned. I chuckle as I write this because I just know what wading in to these types of prayers will bring: plenty more opportunities to be annoyed! I can guarantee that my own tendency to be annoyed at other Christians will be tested this week. Holy Spirit, help us grow!