We're going through a series entitled "My Church Is Kind Of A Big Deal."
The truth is, the only "big deal" is Jesus Christ Himself! So, why would we say, "My church is kind of a big deal"?
It's because my church is a group of people who are MAKING JESUS A BIG DEAL - b/c we know He is everything He says He is! His Spirit lives in us, and He is making us more like Him - sometimes very slowly...sometimes quickly...and always deliberately.
We're at different places - some of us have known God intimately for a long time...some of us are just coming to know Him...and many of us are sorta in-between the two. But, we are wanting to be different - closer to Him - in the days ahead. We respect our differences and agree that God, through Christ, can use our sometimes broken, weak, and imperfect selves.
Unfortunately, a church like this, in today's America...well, it's rare.
And that makes my church "kind of a big deal."
We're not perfect - nor do we claim to be. In fact, it's one of the few churches I've been associated with that I don't feel like I have to pretend to be something I'm not. I get to be ME. (At least, I try to be me. Old habits die hard for all of us, you know?)
And, the thing that most stands out to me is what ISN'T a big deal at my church. Things like: the clothes you wear, the tattoos you sport, the jewelry you have in all the right places, and not knowing everything there is to know about "the Christian life".
There are some things that are strangely missing, too. Things like: side-view glances, fake smiles, empty words, and this eery feeling that you don't belong b/c you're not "like everybody else." Things like: fear of inviting a friend, or coworker, or even some random person you meet on the street and having them feel like an outcast if they choose to come.
My church is also kind of a big deal because we realize that it isn't defined or contained by a building. The church's BUILDING is a place - a GPS location - where we get to meet together during the week. It's a TOOL we use to help others learn more about Him. The building isn't the church - WE ARE THE CHURCH.
We are bonded by a common vision to "discover truth, experience community, and love people." We don't just SAY we worship and serve Him outside the walls of our church building - we actually do it.
That being said, yesterday God used my pastor when he shared a sermon that dealt with change - personal, real, tangible, noticable, life-changing growth - in me...in EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. of us.
He talked about how one of the purposes of looking in a mirror is to see what I might need to change about myself. Wouldn't it be silly if I looked in a mirror, saw myself looking like a mess, and then walked away without doing anything about it? What would be the point of looking in the mirror at all if I just ignored it???
God says, "For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was." (James 1:23-24 NASB)
God has been showing me some things that I need to change about me - things that need to change so I can be more like Him and bring Him the glory He so rightly deserves. Too often I've looked in the mirror of His word, and God has shown me the mess I am. He's said, "Look at that bitterness, unforgiveness, and lack of self-control. Let me help you clean it up. I love you, and I want you to reflect Me - not yourself."
And, what do I do?
Yep. You guessed it...I've too often walked away in ignorance or apathy. Is it enough to see myself in the mirror, know I need to change, and just talk about it?
Last week, God even spoke through a dear friend, and showed me just how much I need to slow down even more and seek Him. So, I'm letting God refine me. I'm daily seeking to surrender my desires so I can reflect more of Him. I'm trying to take a long, hard look in the mirror and not forget what God is showing me there.
I'm seeking to be a "doer of the word" and not just a hearer.
And, I'm learning there's a difference between being a "doer" and being a "doer of the word."
There's a song we've sang as a church several times. The first time I heard it was during a worship service. It was the Sunday following the miscarriage of our baby this past October. I was so overcome with emotion by the words, I couldn't even sing. I needed God to give me faith b/c I definitely had questions and doubts.
Yesterday, we sang it again. And, again, I was completely overcome with God's Spirit present in the words of this song:
I need you to soften my heart
to break me apart
I need you to open my eyes
to see that you're shaping my life
All I am
Give me faith to trust what you say
that you're good and your love is great
I'm broken inside, I give you my life
I need you to soften my heart
to break me apart
I need you to pierce through the dark
and cleanse every part of me
I may be weak
but Your spirit's strong in me
My flesh may fail
My God you never will
Lord, help me change when you show me what needs changing.
"...Give me faith to trust what you say, that you're good and your love is great. I'm broken inside, I give you my life....I may be weak, but Your spirit's strong in me. My flesh may fail, my God you never will..."