Thursday, August 27, 2015
Acts 2:42 ~
And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to the prayers.
One of the first things we see that the early Christians did as a new church was to pour themselves into each other's lives. They studied together. They spent time in fellowship which included meals. They prayed together.
The modern church has wandered so far from this. Most churches seem to have people content to come once a week and engage in small talk with each other, leave, and then have no contact again until the following week. When anyone tries to share what they are struggling with, they are shut down because "Christians should never show weakness." Or a familiar Bible verse is plucked out of the air, thrown at them so we can feel like we've ministered without going deeper. Most believers never fellowship outside of the four walls of the church.
It frustrates me. My desire is to be part of a church body that not only wants to grow spiritually but truly desires to fellowship together and pray together. There have been days when I feel very lonely. My desire has always been to be part of congregation that are passionate about their faith and also share their joys and concerns so we can lift them up in prayer. I want to go beyond the superficial.
But I notice that when I feel frustrated, the grumbling and complaining, pity party and bad attitude begins. When that happens, the Lord reminds me to look at ME! He asks me, "What are you doing that shows this?" "Do I reach out to others even when I feel rebuffed?" "Am I inviting people over regularly?" "Am I ministering to others even if I am not ministered to in return?" "Do I offer direct words of encouragement even if they are not reciprocated?" "Am I passionate about God's word even if I think I'm alone in that?" OUCH! I don't like looking at myself because it requires change.
The biggest question of all came, "Who am I doing all this for?" Is it fulfill some desire for affirmation in me or is it for the Lord? Because if what I do is truly for the Lord then it doesn't matter if I never get affirmed, acknowledged, invited or a response in return. Everything I do should be for the Lord and my own desire to grow.
These inner struggles are really unpleasant, but are so necessary for my own spiritual growth. I can spend all my time, spinning my wheels and looking to others, or I can live out my faith in a vibrant and victorious way. God gently reminds me that I don't know what is in another's heart or mind so what seems stale to me may not be that way at all. When I start looking at my own spiritual walk instead of others, that is when I feel like I'm ministering the most. When I keep my eyes on God, I find that I'm joyful and less judgmental.
Reflection really is good for the soul. :-)