Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Growing Together

This week, our theme is about how we grow spiritually better together. This is one that is very important to me because it flies in the face of much of contemporary Christianity, which has allied itself against the Bible and in favor of American values of self-reliance and self-sufficiency. Today's Christian says, "Leave me alone! I don't need you in order to have a growing relationship with God!" How sadly false.

Until I entered the ministry, I never would have guessed at all the professing Christians who don't attend church. Whether they actually possess an authentic relationship with Christ, I'll leave up to God to determine; what I do know is that they are disobedient and not following what the Bible lays out for us in terms of how to live out the Christian life. For example, Hebrews 10:25 says, "Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another."

But these "Christians" (in quotes because they don't actually follow Christ's teachings) claim to worship God best on a golf course, listening to a CD, in a deer blind, in their living room with a TV, or some other place where they "experience God."

While I firmly believe that one can experience God practically anywhere, enjoying a day of golf is no substitute for corporate worship in the company of brothers and sisters in Christ, or a Bible study with a small group. They're not the same thing.

Here's what never happens on a golf course:

  • God's word is not taught, explained, or applied.
  • One is never challenged to greater obedience or deeper faith.
  • No one is there to point out sinful attitudes, ungodly behaviors, or dishonoring habits.
  • There are no spiritual standards or expectations--no demands (except greens fees).
  • No one tithes to a golf course.
  • There are no stories of inspiring spiritual examples to emulate or pattern oneself after.

Here's what does happen:

  • We grow smug and arrogant, self-satisfied with our superiority over all those losers who need the church.
  • We learn how easy it is to compromise our integrity when no one objects.
  • We congratulate ourselves on what we do well and ignore our spiritual failures.
  • We live in utter obliviousness of our blind spots.
  • We dwell on the failures of others, the hurts that others have inflicted on us, and the injustices done toward us--and we hang onto them as justification for our withdrawal from a spiritual community.

A "pick-your-own" spirituality is just another form of self-worship. We set ourselves up as the authority, instead of God. We bend the rules to conform to our wishes, instead of bending ourselves to conform to God's standards. We follow the example of Satan (who in his heart desired to be like God), rather than the example of Christ ("who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped" Philippians 2:6).

The fact is that we need each other. When we face challenges, we need each other. When we sin, we need each other. When we hurt, we need each other. When we have victories, we need each other. When we have questions, we need each other. When we don't want to be with other people, we need each other.

That's why every one of us needs a small group. We need to stop hiding from one another and start growing together. Are you a baby Christian? You need a group! Are you a mature Christian? You need a group! Are you a stuck Christian? You REALLY need a group! We grow better together!

No comments: