May 17, 2013

Firsthand Experience | Day 30

Church: The Hope Of The World

Scripture to meditate on: “In his name the nations will put their hope.” (Matthew 12:21)

The following is an excerpt from Firsthand: Ditching Secondhand Religion for a Faith of Your Own by Ryan and Josh Shook.

When we set out to discover our own firsthand faith, we were disillusioned with church. We had seen how imperfect the church could be, and we were certain that church was the problem. Coming full circle with our firsthand faith, we now realize that church was not the problem. The problem was our view and definition of church itself.

It took us a long time to understand that church wasn’t a building or a pastor or a sermon series. It’s easy to point out everything wrong with the church when you stand outside it and approach it with a consumer mentality. We thought the church had given us a secondhand faith, when in reality we had chosen to avoid a firsthand relationship with the community of Christ followers we claimed to care about.

Paul wrote this to the followers of Christ in Corinth: “You are Christ’s body—that’s who you are! You must never forget this. Only as you accept your part of that body does your ‘part’ mean anything” (1 Corinthians 12:27, Msg).

You are part of the body of Christ. You are the church. The amazing truth is that you are a member of the most powerful, intimate, and meaningful community in history! God didn’t design you for a secondhand relationship wasted on the sidelines of life. He wants you to experience deep and rich community in His body!

Are you a firsthand member of your local church? Or are you sitting on the sidelines? The church is messy and imperfect because it is made up of broken and imperfect people. Are you sitting on the sidelines because the people in your church are imperfect or “just not like you”? Paul went on to explain in 1 Corinthians that Christ designed the church to be made up of many different people with unique characteristics and talents.

God designed you to be in community with your local church. He designed you to have firsthand relationships not only with Him but also with the people in your church. You can come up with plenty of excuses not to get involved or reasons that your church has it wrong, but when was the last time you looked inside yourself and really searched your own heart for issues? It took us a long time to understand that the source of our secondhand faith wasn’t in the church; it was in our own hearts.

It’s impossible to live a completely firsthand faith without living out your faith in the community of Christ followers God has placed around you. And you need every bit of support you can get to live out a firsthand faith in this spiritually dangerous world.