Tombstones (Matthew Corbitt)

Seventeen months removed from graduating Indiana Bible College, I found myself standing by the graveside of Bishop G.T. Haywood. Its a place I have been before, and yet every time it feels like the first. There is always something special when I visit the old landmarks that testify of our heritage. No, he didn't have a monument that read of his legacy, just a simple headstone with a few words etched in, yet it's a simple reminder of the great sacrifice that our forefathers have made.

It bothers me to hear people constantly tear down churches and organizational bodies, yet it is also troubling to see us bury our head in the sand and say everything is hunky dory. (Not that I am innocent of either.) To find harmony is one of the most difficult tasks in life. Where is balance? (Y'all know I hate the word balance because it denotes compromise. I more so believe that we must fuse together the knowledge of the problems we face and a commitment to one another that is unshakable.)

We as a body must learn to have dialogue one with another and be patient. We have not all grown at the same pace, nor did we come from the same backgrounds. Different hangups and imperfections will follow us until the coming of Jesus Christ, therefore we must learn to bear one another's burdens and help each other strive for perfection. If you can't love your brother whom you have seen, how can you love a God whom you haven't? Or as the old bluegrass song goes, “If you don't love your neighbor, then you don't love God.”

To love is christlike, but what is love really? “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing. Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.” Love is far more than a feeling inside, I would venture to say that love is not a feeling at all, but an unwavering commitment. It is possible to never speak the words, “I love you”, yet your actions prove that love. It is possible to have no warm and fuzzy feelings, and yet have a love far deeper than your “feelings” will allow.

Dare I say that love is not an effeminate word like western culture has made it, but love is indeed an action. If you have love and have not works, it is dead. You can say that you love someone, but your actions may prove the contrary. Love is a selfless commitment that needs not to be returned; it is this love that conquers, not the warm and fuzzy feelings which are subject to whims.

Love is impossible to fake, for it can only be proven in time through action. Feelings fade, but love is committed. Real love is hard to find, for it will both rebuke and praise selflessly. Love is a commitment outside yourself, for if you only love those who love you, you accomplished nothing. One of the greatest challenges we will face as a people is to truly love one another enough to address our differences and strive with one another within the scripture that we all may be strengthened.

Seventeen months removed from graduating Indiana Bible College, I found myself standing by the graveside of Bishop G.T. Haywood. He was the leader of the PAW, persecuted by his peers, a church builder from Indiana, and a wonderful song writer. I am not of his organization or his region, nor do I share in his appearance, yet I have been well blessed because of the sacrifices that he, and so many others, have made. I understand the battle to hold on the the doctrine, and the unwilling to compromise that we must have, but throughout this struggle so stay in Christ, we cannot forget that we are the body, and we must love one another if we ever hope to see Jesus one day.

(Don't use this to believe that coming together means compromising, if you can't intelligently discuss what you believe, you believe nothing and God is not pleased with you in the first place. Paul reasoned in the synagogue to attempt to convert those who believed differently. If you are scared to do this, you might want to find some other faith different from Christianity. I am a firm believer that at the end of the day, the doctrine that was once delivered unto the saints will prevail.)