I have long had the joyful burden on my heart to preach and teach the Word of God to the world. It continues to grow, but I often find myself putting up barriers and thinking that I don’t know how I should be doing it.
I observe the life of many people. I have been heavily involved with church since I gave my life to Christ at age 17. From then up until today (end of high school, through college, as a youth pastor, as a worship pastor, and as a member of a local church body) I have been involved in multiple churches totaling close to 10,000 people across all over those churches. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not sharing numbers to “look good”. Those numbers had nothing to do with me and anything I did, I am simply sharing the amount of lives of people I have passed by or observed.
I have experienced people with a great amount of joy in their lives and I have also observed people with a great amount of sorrow in their lives.
I have had people that were integral and active parts of God’s plan for bringing me to submission before the feet of our almighty Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Some of those people have gone on to do amazing things in the kingdom of God. Some have gotten busy with life and don’t know how to balance it all. Others have hit road bumps and question whether they want to keep on that path.
This BREAKS my heart. I have had some conversations with some friends lately and observed the life choices of others and a lot of people today are struggling with how to be the church. They struggle with experiences they have had in church, some struggle with things they blame God for because they are hurting deep down inside and others just don’t know how to stay committed to staying on the path toward righteousness.
Here is what God is impressing upon my heart: we are lacking intentional community. It is SO easy for us, the church, to become an organization. We need to remember that we are a community. What does a community do? Supports, cares, loves, walks through high times, walks through low times. There are a lot of people that were key influences in my commitment to Christ that are struggling today. They have been hit with a variety of struggles, stumbling blocks, and unforeseen circumstances. This isn’t an excuse for anyone to stop pursuing Christ, but it is a reality. I have been through some (to be blunt) pretty crappy situations in life. But I CANNOT, DO NOT, and WILL NOT let that change the course of my life which God desires for me. When my family and I have been through rough transitions, I have sought out relationships with people that I can pour out an honest heart before. These people, just as imperfect as you and I, fostered community. They listened to me, they shared their wisdom and experience, they prayed for me. They were being the body, the hands and feet, of Christ to me in my time of need. God was using them.
This is what we are called to do. This is how to BE the church. It isn’t about having the Bible memorized cover to cover. It isn’t about having all of the answers. It isn’t about knowing the exact words to say when someone in your local body of believers is hurting.
It is about tending to the needs of your community. In order to do this well, we shouldn’t b waiting around to see someone enter into hardship, but rather we should be fostering and nurturing relationship along the way. Then when something happens to someone, there is a community that is full of support and ready to give it. I am so thankful for those who have been Jesus to me in those times.
What can you do to be Jesus to someone in your life? I am here today because of people following after Jesus’ call on their life. We are called to be the body of Christ here on Earth. We all have our different skills and purposes united together in one calling: sharing the good news that Jesus saves with others and edifying/building one another up as we pursue Christ and set out to do His will here on earth.
So if you find yourself confused as to how to be the church, don’t over-complicate it. Build yourself into a community of caring Christ followers. If you are in a place where you don’t see it happening, then start. It will grow. Trust God. We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. Let’s foster community. Let’s care for one another. Its where great acts of God take place because we aren’t focused on ourselves but on others, just as Christ Himself modeled.
Let it be so.