In the last few months I've read books like Radical by David Platt and 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess and Interrupted by Jen Hatmaker, all of which were wonderful! These are the kinds of books that Brandon groans about because as I read, I am highlighting, making notes, and generating "crazy" ideas.
Consider these ideas from Jen Hatmaker's books for a minute...
"At some point, the church stopped living the Bible and decided just to study it" 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess
"Why did I spend all my time blessing blessed people who should be on the giving side of the equation by now?" Interrupted
I want to jump up and down and shout to everyone who will listen, "There are souls dying every day and we're either too scared or too selfish to save them!"
Consumer Christianity, as I like to describe it, has become so fashionable in America. You go to church to get your weekly religion fix, then go back to your comfy life. Some churches cater to the lifestyle--come have a nice cup of coffee, listen to a great band, be seen at the right church with the right people, and be sure to give a donation to pay the bills.
What if we go one half step better with a wide array of programs? We have a class or study for every conceivable age/ gender/ marital status/ topic imaginable. All of our time is spent feeding our own education. Over the course of our life we will have studied and restudied all the major figures and books of the bible, along with several doses of life application topics.
Enjoying a church community and service is not wrong. I will be the first to tell you that a faithful group of friends is one of the best blessings. Indepth study of the bible is fundamental to our continued spiritual growth. Our failure begins when we choose to hoard all of the gifts and education we have received instead of blessing those outside the church.
1 Peter 3:15 "Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect..."
Even those persecuted Christians whom Peter was trying to encourage in this reference where advised to always be ready to share about their faith. They faced torture and death because of their faith but still they were told to continue to do what was right even if they suffered as a result. Few of us will ever face the same level of persecution that the early church endured but we must be willing to risk intolerance, loss of status, discomfort, and mockery for our beliefs.
If we spend our whole lives studying the bible but never apply it beyond ourselves, what have we gained? One selfish believer! What have we lost? The opportunity to reach countless lives that crossed our path! I love to see how a van full of kids has changed our little church. There are people who I would have never guessed volunteering to pick up kids, eat supper with kids, and mentor them in class. It's a quiet (not really they're pretty loud) revolution towards building a strong church body that purposefully focuses on the world outside it's doors.
From Live Second
Talk with God -- Prepare me to talk with those who you have put in my life about the story you have worked in my life.
Let me add -- Give me discernment to balance loving like Jesus and sharing biblical truths in a way that will guide people toward Jesus, not away. Help me to face my fears and selfishness to reach your people.