Lifting the Weights

People treat their relationship with God like it’s a movie, something they pay a little bit of money for to entertain them for a little bit of time. No wonder many of us feel like we’re watching boring re-runs. No wonder many of us become lazy sitting on our couches watching, or entitled, since movies are made for our glorious entertainment. No wonder many of us are left doubting so much and not knowing what to do, like you just paid $10 to see a terrible movie with no one to even talk about it with after.

We need to open our eyes. God is not here to entertain us. It’s not a give-and-take thing; that’s religion. Instead, you were bought with a price. Glorify God with your body (1 Corinthians 6:20). Worship him by being a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1).

I wish Christians would compare their relationship with God more like going to the gym. It’s not easy. Sure, it’s refreshing and good for you, but it takes a lot of work. There’s no point in going once a month or even once a week to be honest. To get any sort of growth you have to keep at it consistently, and you’ll have to accept doing exercises you may not enjoy. At first. And if you go to the gym for the wrong reasons, it shows. That’s a lot like how an authentic relationship with God is.

It sounds like too much work to be of any worth, until you have been going to the gym consistently for years. Is it any less work? No. However, you’ll have grown in mind and body so much the fruit and benefit of the work will happily keep you motivated. All the heavy lifting has paid off and always will, so long as you keep investing.

The amusing thing is that God is far more than weights or any cardio routine. We marvel at what a gym can do to a man or woman who takes the time to invest, but how much more will God do to the servant that faithfully invests in him? Instead of doing power cleans twice a week for two years, go and invite your unbelieving friends and neighbors over once a week for two years. Get up early to pray five days a week for twenty years. Mentor someone once a week for five years. How much more will God do to your soul, your innermost being, than weights will do to your physical, decaying body? Didn’t Jesus say your soul counts for so much more anyway?

“His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.” 2 Peter 1:3-4.

Some of us need to change the way we see God in our lives. Who serves who? Who puts in the work? Who gives grace, and who gets glory?

Time to go to the gym.

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Just a Bunch of Hands and Feet

There are a lot of misconceptions about church. Especially among Christians.

It’s not a place to gain acceptance or reputation.

It’s not a place to sleep. As tempting as it might seem.

It’s not a place to justify and feel better about what you did the night before.

It’s not a place to feel “Christian.”

It’s not a place where you go because ‘that’s what you’re supposed to do.’

It’s not a place you don’t wake up to go to because you’re sick (Sadly, my case this morning).

Then what is the church?

I like to define the church as a place where believers come together and learn about Jesus Christ, grow in relationship with him and fellow believers through  a loving community, and go from to serve the community and preach the Gospel. And by “church” in this post I am usually referring to the ‘church building’ or wherever you go on Saturday/Sunday rather than the Biblical understanding of the actual body of believers, which is definitely not just a place. (I forgot to specify that when I originally posted this).

It’s important to understand that at the heart of the church is Jesus Christ. Not people. The Gospel is of utmost importance, not the attendance numbers.

And the last part of my definition of church is absolutely crucial, though telling others about Jesus is what Christians forget most often. Churches can become so focused on events and programs and sermon series’ that they lose focus on some of their Savior’s final, earthly words. Jesus told his disciples to go make more disciples in every part of the world (Matthew 28:16-20).

Forgetting this last part is probably why many churches die out after a number of years. It becomes a clique, and no outreach is done (or very little). Let’s be honest here — who wants to play Pin the Tail on the Donkey with the same folks year after year?

By being Christians, we should be aiming to be Christ’s disciples. Do you consider him your teacher, and you his student? As a Christian, as a student of Jesus, we should be trying to look more and more like him every day (Ephesians 4:15). What exactly did his ministry look like? He spent most of his time telling people about the Gospel and loving them for who they were, regardless of status, income, and appearance. And people were drawn to him, because of who he is and what he said.

Why is this the one area we Americans usually neglect? We’d rather read books and feel good about ourselves. We’d rather go to church and say “hello” to our one-day-a-week friends (or hang out exclusively with a select few every week). Yet there are plenty of people in your area of life that have never been told the Gospel. There’s still homeless people who could use some food, and there’s broken lives that need true love. There’s even one-day-a-week friends who are going through something terrible and need advice, prayer, and comfort! I know that I need to be reminded of this a lot. And I can’t help but think — what is a loving community that doesn’t welcome new people in or help the people within? Learn, grow, go. If any one of those three are off, the church is not really being the church. If one falls, the other two will follow suit.

Because of our sin, as churchgoers we tend to really focus on only one of the three attributes above and sometimes idolize it. Maybe we become obsessed with the preaching/pastor. Maybe we love our community so much that we feel insecure when things change. Sometimes we can even idolize outreach to the point of legalism. That’s why Jesus is the core of the church.

We are his hands and feet as parts of his body (1 Corinthians 12:12-27), but if he’s not the center then it seems like we are just a bunch of hands and feet scattered all over the place. “Thing” from the Adam’s Family comes to mind. When love Jesus with all of our soul and tell others about him, people will be drawn to him and not to us. That’s what church is all about.

Are you connected to your church? Do you have any great outreach stories or just anything cool from your community of believers? Please, share!