Something that has been weighing on me lately is the notion of who is in AACF, as well as the slightly discouraging talk of people looking for other fellowships. I’m going to take a moment and be honest – numbers don’t matter to me, but people I’ve grown to expect to stay deciding to leave does hurt me. I’m glad that God has taken the opportunity to lead me to dust off my keyboard and actually embed some thoughts into digital paper on this thought because I can be forthcoming and genuine about the burden that’s on my heart; I should also really get back into writing, and I figure a journal entry would be the best way to lubricate the rusted fluidity.
But I digress; returning to the topic of membership in AACF, as well as the fear of people leaving AACF for other fellowships, I believe that the anxiety has been slowly finding roots in my mind, and the attitude bears some alarming signs for how I’ve developed in my faith in recent times. I think the core of this mindset is best approached through two questions: why do I feel hurt when people choose to go to other fellowships, and what does being a member of AACF mean?
The first question is a question regarding who I am jealous for, and how involved I am with the membership of others in AACF. The honest answer to why I feel hurt when other people opt for another campus ministry is I feel like I’ve done something wrong. I feel torn between not representing Christ well enough and just being a miserable, wretched person – both of which can be true, but might not be the precise reasons why people search elsewhere for fellowship. I wonder about the thoughts going through the heads of others and attempt to make efforts to reconcile with them, thinking that a change in my own character is enough to sway their opinion of AACF as a fellowship. I look around at the brothers and sisters and stand amazed that they seem to not notice the departure of some members, and that bewilderment turns into scrutiny of our own individual characters. I feel hurt because sometimes budding friendships get cut off by virtue of not sharing a fellowship any longer, and it’s a shame because when did going to another fellowship mean that we don’t worship the same God? When did it mean that I couldn’t even be friends with them? Once these two accusations come in mind, the gravity of the situation is magnified, and my own faults are shown properly to me; not only do I believe that I have failed to express Christ’s life in my own life, but also I have lost sight of what it means to be a member of the fellowship.
Being a member of the fellowship does not mean that the members are the only ones who know Christ. We’re all broken people, coming together in fellowship that we might know, to a greater depth, our perfect Savior, Jesus Christ. Being a member of AACF does not mean that my friend pool is limited to those in AACF; it merely gives me a close community with which to share my experiences of Christ. However, it need not be the only community in which I may share Christ because Christ’s sacrifice has adopted me into a family with numbers exceeding imagination – a family that I will never know to completion over the course of my entire life. Being a member of AACF does not mean that I have to have a certain personality, social standing, or otherwise. It does mean that I have the privilege of knowing many other believers, all at different points in their walks, and understand the characteristics of God through their various stories. Being a member of AACF is not a binding contract nor is it a matter of allegiance; being a member of AACF just means that God has placed me in this fellowship to meet with these brothers and sisters at this appointed time akin to what Acts 17:26 says.
What is missing, what has been changed, and what has been dishonored is the truth that God is the one who is sovereign over all things. I feel hurt when other people go to other fellowships because I take it personally; had I half of Phinehas’s jealousy for the Lord and His people, I would see that they are not departing from the faith, but finding other believers to fellowship with and adding to the family that we are all a part of. My jealousy is a personal jealousy, not a divine jealousy, and my endgame has departed from wanting to see more souls enter God’s kingdom to being a personal validation of worth through a statistical insignificance (in God’s time). I have not been a member of AACF seeking Christ to be exalted; I have been a proud human seeking recognition by way of membership numbers. For this, I repent. I have lost sight of Christ and His glory. I have misunderstood His will in leading people away from AACF. I have forgotten His mercy to me and to countless around me, in AACF or otherwise. In the end, Christ is who we need to express in our day-to-day lives, irreverent of who is watching or who’s approval is garnered. We are not seeking the praise of man, as I have been, but looking ahead to the day we humbly kneel before God and join Him in His kingdom, singing His praises. If I am properly representing Christ to the best of my ability and people are pushed away from the fellowship, praise the Lord. If I am living out the life that He lived and desires for me to live and people are encouraged to join AACF more, praise the Lord. My only desire is that I may die, and that Christ might live in me, in every part of my ministry and service, bringing glory unto Himself. For in the end, He alone is worthy, and my greatest boast shall not be in the weakness of my flesh, but in the overcoming, conquering, victorious work that He has wrought in my life. May we continue pursuing Christ magnified in our lives, and may we see ourselves gradually become transformed into mirrors of Himself.