Apr 1, 2009

40 day journey: absence makes the heart grow

This past Monday I didn't post a devotion for the 40 Day Journey many of us are taking together. I had one lined up, and then it occurred to me that part of this journey means each of us taking charge of it. In other words, while the community of God is intended to serve each other, it shouldn't ever replace your own relationship with God... don't wait for the devotion to spend time with Him.

I learned this the hard way when I was a new Christian and began to fall out of sync with my church. Soon I felt like I was falling out of sync with God... because sometimes when we think our commitment is God-sized it's often only church-sized. And even then, we may think we have a church-sized commitment but it's actually only cause-sized. And likewise, we may think we're committed to a cause but really we're only sticking around because our friends are there.

That's the pattern many of us either take part in or see happening as people come into a church community:
  • Relationships - They want to know if they will find a connection with others "like them."

    If that happens, they move on to...

  • Cause - They like what we're doing, so they join into it.

    If that happens, they move on to...

  • Leadership - They like the pastor's teaching. Or connect with the Praise Band.

    If that happens, they move on to...

  • Christ - They take stop dating the church and fall in love with the family of God with a "for better or for worse" commitment.

Most people don't realize they haven't committed themselves to Christ. Here's the reverse, though.
  • If the commitment stops at a leader, when that leader leaves or makes them mad they will leave.

  • If that commitment stops at a cause, when that cause matures into something new or is found to no longer be applicable/needed, they will leave.

  • If that commitment is all about friends, but those friends leave the church then they will be motivated to do the same.

  • If that commitment is all about Christ, they can be mad at a leader and decide to stay and work it out; they can enjoy today's cause because they're not glowing only about the past; they can find a way to influence their friends for the sake of Jesus and not the other way around.
So today I simply challenge you to not require me to challenge you.

In other words, pursue Christ.

He's the One I'm trying to get you to follow anyway.

Check this out:
From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.

Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. "Never, Lord!" he said. "This shall never happen to you!"

Jesus turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men."(Matthew 16:21-23)

Two questions:
  • What was Peter committed to in this passage?
  • And do you see yourself in this passage at all?
  • And which are you committed to - really?
    • Relationships?
    • The cause of the church?
    • A certain leader?
    • Christ?

1 comment:

Nessa said...

Wow!! God Bless thank you for this-I'm definately going to share. I myself have been experiencing this-I've been asking God to help me with my attitude about going to my church and so here it is. Also a lot of the youth my age from teens to 20 somethings all have been wrestling with going to church more than just "sunday mornings"