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Thursday, May 15, 2008

What Does It Matter?

Grow – Invite – Connect – Give

"And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching." (Hebrews 10:24-25, NIV)

There are three ways you can view the church. You can view it as a gas station, a hotel or a home.

A lot of people view church as a gas station. You see, a gas station is a place you go to get something you need. You may not like that you need it and you may not like the price that you have to pay but, through what people have taught you and perhaps from personal experience, you are convinced that a car without fuel is pretty worthless. When you go to the gas station, you use your credit card at the pump, you may nod to the person next to you getting gas but you really aren’t interested in relationship. Relationship only happens when you can’t get the pump to work and you have to talk to the attendant or you buy a little caffeine and sugar hit. It is all about getting what you need as fast as you can and you don’t return unless you have to.

Other people view church as a hotel. The hotel is a place to stay for a bit to get the needed rest to get to someplace else. Hotels are mostly about value and comfort – finding the right mix of the two. The relationship is a little higher because you are talking to the desk clerk to get checked in, you might make some small talk to the other people at the continental breakfast bar but once you are rested and fed, off you go to your next place.

God views the church as a home. A home is a place where you belong. You don’t visit, you don’t pass through, it isn’t just about getting what you want or need. A home is where you give and where you get, it is where you are funny and grumpy, orderly and messy, happy and sad and your family loves you just the same because they are committed to you. A home is where you grow up in size and grow up in character. A home is a place where people love you too much to let you stay the same so they encourage, challenge, rebuke, teach and discipline you so that you can reach that wonderful potential that you may not see but they do. A home is a place you sometimes feel like running away from because it is filled with messy, smelly, occasionally obnoxious imperfect people that hurt you. But they are family so you stay and work it out.

God never intended His church to be seen as a commodity – something to be selfishly used. He intended His church to be a Spirit empowered, relationship driven, passion filled group of imperfect people striving to encourage each other to be more like Jesus.

Here is something that is absolutely true – the longer we stay away from the church, the easier it is to stay away from the church. We eventually convince ourselves that they don’t need us and we don’t need them.

But the Bible is clear – we need each other. We need to be connected in regular, committed relationship with others that goes beyond the surface. It is one of the most difficult things we do in our journey of faith in Jesus Christ – finding authentic relationship with others. It starts with engaging in regular corporate worship, teaching and celebration of the sacraments of communion and baptism. It moves to engagement in growth, learning and relationship through small group connection and matures when we serve in community with each other.

What does it matter? It is the difference between a living, growing, deep abiding faith in God versus a self-serving religious experience that puts myself as the object of worship instead of God.

It matters a lot. Keep connected.



"See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness." (Hebrews 3:12-13, NIV)

" The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ."

"Now the body is not made up of one part but of many."

"Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. And in the church God has appointed ..." (1 Corinthians 12:12, 14, 27-28, NIV)

Grow – Invite – Connect – Give

1 comment:

kingman said...

How 'bout church is like school?
Sometimes you learn a lot, sometimes you are bored because you've learned it before, sometimes you sleep during the lecture and you always wonder how you'll do on the final exam!