Kevin Kompelien is president of the Evangelical Free Church of America, serving in this role since June 2015. He previously served more than 20 years as a local pastor in the EFCA and then nine years as international leader of the Africa division with EFCA ReachGlobal. He and his wife, Becky, are members of Hillside EFC in San Jose, California.
Honoring Each Other in Love
A reminder that our words matter
God has called us to a mission that is far greater than any one of us, or any single group will be able to accomplish alone. The time is short and the needs around us are great and incredibly complex. Now more than ever as the people of God, we need to work together to demonstrate the transformational work of Christ in our lives. The culture around us is polarized and people are too often belittled and marginalized. It is imperative that we demonstrate kindness reflective of Jesus as we interact with each other, even when we disagree.
As Becky and I travel around the EFCA we are encouraged by the unique individuals the Lord has given the Free Church. He has blessed us with women and men of multiple ages and ethnicities who have unique gifts and life experiences and are living in widely varying communities. We are knit together by our faith in the Lord Jesus, and our commitment to His Word and His mission in this world. It is a wonderful picture of the power of the gospel at work in people’s lives. I believe it will take effectively engaging this rich variety of people in the EFCA to accomplish the mission God has put before us. All of us demonstrating the heart of Jesus and using our gifts in the power of the Holy Spirit will make a huge difference in bringing the gospel to a broken and hurting world.
Jesus was clear in John 13 that the world will know we are His followers as we love each other. How we treat one another sends a message to those around us that can at times speak louder than the gospel message we try to share. Loving each other well involves being kind and sincerely desiring the best for everyone. Paul said it well in Philippians 2:1-5 when he wrote,
“So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus…”
The way of Jesus is not about superiority and power, but rather about humility and servanthood.
Unfortunately, at times in the church words are spoken and attitudes are demonstrated that not only hinder our witness in the world but bring hurt and disrespect to others in the body of Christ. During the past couple of weeks, blog posts and social media have buzzed with commentary on John MacArthur’s remarks about Beth Moore. I don’t know the intent of his heart, but I do know many Christian women felt dishonored and disrespected as a result. My heart is heavy for what this said to godly women faithfully serving Jesus. It is one thing to disagree with someone; it is quite another to speak or act in ways that are hurtful. I want to affirm the place and giftedness of women in EFCA churches across the country and with ReachGlobal around the world.
The same could be said about hurtful and disrespectful comments that have been made in the past about other groups of people in the church. These can be people who are different from us, those with whom we disagree or those we simply don’t understand. Rather than honoring them by demonstrating kindness, seeking to understand and taking time to sit together, it is too often easier to speak demeaning comments or to simply exclude them from places at the table. Brothers and sisters of color, young leaders and seniors have at times felt this among us. This not only brings hurt to fellow believers, but it also dishonors Jesus to the world around us.
In a world where words are increasingly becoming weapons used to hurt and humiliate, may we in the EFCA be a people who speak words that are gracious and reflect the heart of Christ. We all need to work together to further our mission of glorifying God by multiplying transformational churches among all people. As we seek to serve Jesus and live out His mission for us in this world, let us honor each other in word and deed as we demonstrate the truth of Ephesians 5:1-2:
“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”