My co-pastor once said something along the lines of, “when we don’t know the value of something, we can abuse it”. I believe that message came at a pivotal time for me because I was at a point in my life where I was wondering about the church and its form. I asked the Lord, what is the purpose of the church? What does it do; and why do we need to be in it? It wasn’t that I didn’t love Jesus, but at the time a distinct connection between my head and heart knowledge about the Body of Christ wasn’t making sense to me.
I’m the type of person that will ask what seems to be basic questions, not to be facetious, but so that I can gain real understanding. Plus, in a day where millennials have been increasingly becoming “un-churched”, these questions aren’t really basic but actually needed for answers. I knew the church has a purpose according to God’s word but I believe I didn’t know and understand the value because I was accustomed to the gathering of the saints. In other words, I was used to going to church.
I grew up in the House of the Lord. Yet it wasn’t until one Wednesday night at bible study when I realized a portion of its value. I say portion because although I’m involved in the Body I know its value is much more than what can be experienced once. It’s unfolding, it’s an undoing of what I thought and a learning of what has always been. That Wednesday night I was enlightened, charged to have faith and encouraged at bible study. I remember it being a very trying week for me, and just the hug I received from one of my sisters in Christ squeezed life into me. I was happy to be there. I was elated to be around others who not only loves Jesus but loved like Him, too.
It was then when I realized how much we add to one another and that we were not designed to do life by ourselves. We aren’t supposed to depend on it, but we definitely are not meant to be our own pastor and do church by ourselves by way of online sermons. Fellowship is real. The church is a community of love and a tool of sanctification. I like to call my church an active church. I call it that because as a member, I’ve experienced and grown through situations that have helped me practice and live out exactly what I see in the scriptures, lessons like:
To love your neighbor as yourself (Mark 12:31)
How to deal with conflict in the church (I almost didn’t pass this test. That backspace Is a button of mercy lol) (Matthew 18:15)
To not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing (Matthew 6:3)
To not be a stumbling block to others (1 Corinthians 8:9)
To not look at a person w/ lust (Matthew 5:28)
To not come to be served but to serve (Matthew 20:28)
That every joint supplies what’s needed and to honor that (Ephesians 4:16)
To pray for and submit to your leadership (1 Timothy 2:1-2)
To stop passing judgement on one another (Matthew 7:1-5)
Bearing with one another in love (Ephesians 4:12)
The reality of the weak and the strong (Romans 14)
To be honest, I didn’t always like learning these things. My flesh and all its humanity would’ve loved to stay the same. To bypass all this practical application to only read and know in part, to not be a doer of the word but only a hearer. To not die to self and listen to the voice that says “forgive her”, “be there on time”, “fulfill your commitments like you said”. My flesh would much rather deceive me into just loving Him without the love your neighbor part. Without the slightest amount of accountability. I’m here to let you know that this mentality is off and can very much lead to destruction. But the Lord says no. Community won’t let it stay and love won’t let it prosper. So, how does this word come alive in our life? We do it.
"Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. (Matthew 7:24-25)
Practice what you Preach
I believe we grow by applying the word to our lives; and trust me, these times come in some of the most annoying, and even hurtful circumstances, but I’ve learned that this is when its bears the most fruit. For example: There was a time when I was offended by my sister after a prayer meeting because I misinterpreted what she said to me (Yes, that’s right, after a prayer meeting). Then it was another time I was offended by a mother in the church, because I totally misunderstood what she said to me. I was upset, bothered, and was so tempted to give in to bitterness. Every time I was around them, I would’ve rather turned the other way tend to my business in the corner. Speaking to them was the last thing I wanted to do.
During these times I kept hearing “leave your gift at the altar and be reconciled to your brother”. Though I didn’t want to do it, after I gave in and spoke out and we were reconciled, I saw the very reason why it’s said in scripture. Reconciliation is worship. Instead of dancing and praising around those I’m offended by, real worship is to forgive and hash out whatever problems we had. Besides, all of my dancing and all my praise would’ve been in vain anyway because my heart wasn’t right. It’s a lie, and that night I learned that. After I confessed I felt SO much better and joyful because my love for my sister grew past pettiness. That night, the word came alive in a different way in my life.
Walk it Out
The joy about putting it into practice is that when we walk it out, we walk it out together. We learn things from each other when we serve together, or pray for one another in hard times or when we get to celebrate our brothers and sisters who have life events. Iron sharpens Iron, every joint supplies, every burden is carried. It’s not always easy but it’s worth it! At the end of the day we build together, and I’m happy to see it alive and working in my life and in my church.
Until next time,