Each week, we’ve been asking a series of questions to help us measure our Spiritual Pulse. Here are three questions I want you to consider as we dive into this next stage of our Spiritual Growth.
First, How committed am I to my church family? Commitment is measured by time spent, resources given, priority and follow through.
Second, How involved am in in my church community? Am I being served most of the time, serving others, or uninvolved?
Third, Do I see a need, and work to fill that need, or do I complain about it and see it as a weakness in my church family?
This weekend we are examining the relationship we are to have with those who share our faith in Jesus Christ. We call this the Connect Stage of our Spiritual Development. It is through this relationship with others that we mature from Spiritual Infancy to Spiritual Childhood and beyond.
The bible describes this relationship a number of ways - "The Church", "The bride of Christ", "A Body of Believers", "Brothers and sisters"..... I think my favorite is “Family”.
When we respond to Christ's invitation to follow him, we are acknowleging the reality that we are part of his church, that we are part of his family. The bible goes on to describe our life without a church family as being like an organ without a body, a sheep without a flock, a child without a home.
In Acts Chapter 2, Luke describes for us that moment of discovery that occurs at some point in every person’s life. In verse 37 after Peter’s very first Sermon, many in the crowd discovered the reality that Jesus Christ is the one and only son of God who had come that they and every generation to follow could have a personal relationship with God. Upon this discovery, the people were cut to the very core of their spirit, their heart, and said in verse 37: "What must we do? How are we to respond?" and Peter said in verse 38: "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” That day, thousands were born again, becoming infants in their faith, wanting to know more, wanting to share their experience, their stories... And this is how they did it. Luke writes in verse 42: They devoted themselves to the apostles teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”
I love the way Luke describes the early church in verse 42. He uses the word devoted. Here are three broad, but important ways we are to be devoted as growing Spiritual Children in the faith. I must devote myself to Christ’s teaching and Community.
Jesus set the pattern for our family, for the church, with the 12 men that he chose as his first disciples. From the very beginning, Jesus loved these twelve men, he served them, he taught them, he encouraged them, corrected them, prayed with them, ate with them and journeyed through life with them.
I like this quote: "it's easy to believe we are mature if there is no one to challenge us." Real maturity shows up in relationships.
If I am to mature beyond that of being a Spiritual Child, I must engage my role in God’s family. There are responsibilities that come with being part of God’s family, with the relationship we are to have as Christ's Church. I am honest about my Spiritual condition. We don't put on aires, we are honest about who we are, where we are at in our journey, what's happening in our lives. But with that transparency comes the responsibility of those around to be honest with you, to be sincere in their willingness to partner with you and help you move forward.
I am to share strategically. Strategic givers strategize, they think: “How can I take what I have been blessed with and use it for others?” We see all that we are, all that we have experienced, all that we have been given, as tools that God provides for us to advance his kingdom on earth.
I recognize that I am important to the Church and so I remain committed no matter what.
I ran into an old friend who took piano lessons from the same instructor I had 35 years ago. I asked her if she played piano. She said, I took lessons for 8 years, but you know what? I can’t play the piano. As we talked, be both agreed that the problem is – taking lessons isn’t enough. Eventually we have to apply the lessons, practice, develop….
The same principle applies in our Spiritual Development. Joining a church, being part of a youth group, life group, family dugout, volunteering to serve, all of these things are huge first steps for most of us. But once you take that step, don’t just go through the motions, don’t take lessons for 8 years but never apply what you’ve learned. That’s the beauty of the church. It’s where we grow, its where we try new things in a relatively safe environment. You may get tired but don’t walk away… You may get your feelings hurt, or may feel like sometimes you aren’t making any progress, but remain all-in.
So tell me… What’s your pulse say when it comes to being a connected member of God’s family? In his book Forgotten God, Frances Chan asks: What would the church look like if everyone’s commitment looked like mine?
I look forward to seeing you this weekend as we dive deeper into this subject and grow in our relationship The Lord. Bring a friend or family member. You will be glad that you came. Dave