Whether you're a people person or not, God has called you to live in community. God doesn't intend for us to be Lone Ranger Christians. He makes it very clear in His Word that we grow best when we plug into a healthy body of believers, a local church.
The 2nd key for consistent, consequential spiritual growth is
growing in the context of a healthy, biblical local church body
The New Testament presents us with at least 45 "one anothers," commands to treat one another in specific ways, which can only be practiced with increasing reliability within the context of the church. For instance, just to give you a taste, the Scripture calls us to:
- Love one another (John 15:12)
- Live in harmony with one another (Romans 12:16)
- Serve one another (Galatians 5:13)
- Be gentle with one another (Ephesians 4:2)
- Be kind to one another (Ephesians 4:32)
- Forgive one another (Ephesians 4:32)
- Sing truth to one another (Ephesians 5:19)
- Pray for one another (James 5:16)
- Look out for one another's interests (Philippians 2:3-4)
In each of the 45+ times these "one anothers" are mentioned, they are given in the context of the local body of believers, the church. They are not just treatments for our immediate family members or friends. They detail the ways we are to treat other believers, other followers of Christ.
A church family generally consists of people of various ages, professions, economic backgrounds, education levels, and other variables. My church is also made up of multiple ethnicities and people from all over the nation and even the world. But the one commonality among a church family is a love for Jesus and a desire to follow Him. That common denominator works as a beautiful unifier that makes even the most diverse church exciting to be a part of.
My bet is you've had a hard time finding a body of believers that you want to stick with too awfully long. Am I right? Hey, that's perfectly normal. You've also undoubtedly heard the saying, "If you find a perfect church, it won't be perfect for long." The implications are that you'll soon find out things about the people, the leadership, the procedures and the history that might surprise you, and you'll undoubtedly bring your own set of quirks and hang-ups to the mix as well!
But that's exactly the context in which we have the most potential for growth. Thus, the "one anothers"... forgive, be patient, restore, submit, live in harmony, etc. This is the garden in which the environment applies just enough pressure to help us grow into strong, mature, and well-tested disciples.
Besides, a church family offers so much. Sure, you'll find all the quirks you find out in the world...factions, dissensions, arguments, petty differences. These are things we're all working through together. But you'll also find people who support you, encourage you, love you, hold you accountable, invest in you, and weep and laugh with you. You'll find a family.
Have you been trying to grow spiritually all alone? You're missing out on one of the greatest blessings of being part of the family of God...the family! I encourage you to look for a local church family where the Bible is upheld as the inerrant, inspired Word of God, where Jesus is honored and obeyed, and where the people are doing their very best to practice all those "one anothers." And you jump in there and practice them, too!
Where do you go to church? Better yet, what is the name of your church family? Because folks, church is not somewhere you go; it's something you are.
Labels: 7 Keys to Spiritual Growth, church