In the church, relationships matter. As those united with Christ, we put less on our daily agenda so we can slow down and truly see the people around us. Making that space in my own life has been a treasure as God has placed people in front of me. For some, it's just a smile and other times it's extended conversations with strangers who become friends. Church happens, it is not a place. You never know where you will discover it, but it can only be found in real relationship with others who are united with Christ.
In the church, the Bible serves as the introduction to the living Christ, it does not replace the living Christ. We let the written word shape us into being united with the Living Word. The one who is united with Christ will abandon sin, love sinners, and bring healing. The world will hate those who truly embrace this path.
We have authority in the church only when we actually are united with Christ. Our authority does not come from a title, credentials or official membership. If I spend no time with God each day, I really do have nothing to offer to those around me that is of lasting value. The value of leadership is in knowing the game plan the Coach is putting into place. If I can't hear the Coach, I'm not helping with the game plan.
In the church, our lives are characterized by respect and mutual affection. If an institution loses the ability to cultivate that, it is no longer serving the church. We point each other toward Christ, not toward policy and rules. We say the hard things, we separate from those who are false teachers because we have come to love the One who confronted evil and embraced what is good. We reject the ugliness of humanity's false unity for the freedom and beauty of the Holy Spirit's leadership.
Our lives are about living in loving agreement, not about imposing conformity on others. The value of the relationship is only as good as how we help each other become united in Christ. We equip and build up each other to serve in unity with Christ and not as conformists to an institution.
Here are some questions to consider as you think about your life:
- Is the reality of the Holy Spirit's voice within you becoming clearer or is it becoming more difficult to hear?
- Is your heart being filled with the fruits of love, joy and peace?
- Are you tired and worn out and feeling more distant from God?
- Are you being honest about your unity with Christ or are you more focused on what you think you should be and what you think you should do?
- Is most of what you do characterized by a sense of obligation and guilt with your heart at a very different place?
- As you let go of obligations, are you losing yourself in God's love or pursuing a path of self-interest?
These questions can serve as a spiritual checkup, and they are only as valuable as your honesty in answering them. I challenge you to find a friend or two who walks with Jesus, and give them your answers to these questions. Eat a meal as a family and tell them how it's really going. I guarantee that in the conversations you will find church. It's good living.
-John M Troyer
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