This morning I spent a wonderful few hours at our new church home. We were reminded from 1 Corinthians, chapter 15, that the Gospel (good news) of Christianity is that Jesus came to earth, was fully God and fully man, lived a life of perfect obedience to God, was crucified unjustly on our behalf, was buried, and was resurrected from the grave to give us victory over sin and eternal life with him if we will have faith and believe, and then that true belief will involve us acting on our faith and following Him and His teachings until He returns. This is what it all boils down to if you claim to be a Christian. Being a Christian isn't about the church you grew up in or the background of your family. It is based on your own personal faith in God the Father through Jesus Christ.
Since Christianity is between God and individuals, the health of a Christian church is dependent on the spiritual health of its individual members. "Church attendance has nothing to do with a church's health, what matters is how active and vibrant their faith is in the God they serve." - Fresh Faith, by Jim Cymbala. A large church does not necessarily mean a healthy church, is what Pastor Cymbala is saying. He goes on to say, "Our first church atmosphere, with its pastors and teachers, automatically set our definitions for prayer, worship, church, evangelism, God's power, faith and even Christianity. Thus instead of coming to the scriptures like a child saying, 'God teach me,' we go looking for ammunition to back up what we've already embraced."
This is an important human tendency to consider as we think about our response to the Gospel and to church as well. Is our knowledge of God the sum total of what we've observed and been taught in church, or have we taken responsibility to learn and grow spiritually and to seek God in faith individually? Are we clinging to faith in the church that we've joined or the church we grew up in, counting on the belief that what they taught us is true, or are we clinging to faith in Jesus Christ and His Word that we have sought out for ourselves?
Healthy Christian churches are made up of people coming together who individually have a vibrant and growing faith in Jesus Christ, not a faith in their local church. If we are wondering whether we are putting more stock in our local church affiliation or our affiliation with God - some questions to ask ourselves are:
1. Do I talk more with others about my church or my God?
2. Am I inviting others to attend church or inviting them to know God?
3. Am I telling others about the gospel that I believe and live my life based on or am I telling them about the programs and traditions of my local church?
Being loyal to Christ does NOT mean being disloyal to our local church. The more loyal and connected we are to Christ, allowing Him to grow our own individual faith in Him, the healthier and better off our local church will be as a result.
Carla Ritz. Proof positive that God uses cracked pots!