I had come early to meet my friend Keith for lunch, and the young woman in the Church office where he worked was chatting with me while I waited.
I didn't tell her I knew the founding Pastor, or that I had attended the Church about 6 weeks before, and had found it too loud and raucous for my taste. She told me she had moved from Northern Queensland about 6 months ago and that this Church was much better than her home Church. I asked why. 'Because people love one another here', she said. 'And at your home Church?', I asked. 'It's all about performance and appearances, and you have to respect the Pastor.'
I thought to myself, 'That defines Pharisee!'
Churches and Corps often ask why young people leave, or why there isn't a good flow of fresh new faces coming along and staying.
The answer is surprisingly simple. Genuine seekers can smell a fake a mile away! And they are very attracted to Sincerity and Real Friendship. Young people who take a critical look at the Christian Community they grew up in will stay if they know they are loved.
So it's no surprise that Jesus said that 'not yet Christians' will know we are genuine when we love one another.
Church Leaders who determine to be genuine, loving, followers of Jesus and consistently challenge any behaviours or attitudes that destroy Christian Community will have a flourishing Church if they persist.
Will Pharisees get angry? Yes. Will they try to undermine and divide the Leadership and congregation? Yes.
But love will win in the end.