Jesus wasn't about tradition, ToDo lists, or check boxes. Jesus was about living a life on mission, everyday.
What's the mission?
"But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere - in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."
Read that a second time and look for where it says to hide inside our churches and follow a weekly checklist. Did you find it? Me either. Then how is it that we've slipped back into an Old Testament perspective on relating to God?
I recently finished reading a book, (which is a big deal because I am notorious for starting books and never finishing them ) Grace: The Power to Change, by James Richards. In one of the closing chapters he makes this statement,
"You are continually being changed into the image of the God you believe in."
That sentence hit me hard, so hard that I tweeted the sentence. I know, crazy right?!?
If people in the church are living a life filled with traditions, ToDo lists, and check boxes, then what does that say about the God they serve? Can we honestly say that the God who created time and space expects us to fill out a time sheet every week? Do we really think he is micromanaging us towards heaven? Do we expect a annual review and faith increase based on our work for the previous year?
We've turned the church into a corporation. We need to not to.
The God that I've committed to building a relationship with is a God of love. He's a God who understands that I am, by nature, far from perfect. He is a God that knows that I have screwed up royally, and likely will again in some way. He is a God who can see all my faults, but chooses not to focus on them. He is a God that loves me more than I can possibly imagine despite my propensity to screw things up.
I serve a God who has called me to move out, show love to my neighbors, and accept people for who they are, where they are. When I do that, God will use me. God knows I'm not equipped to take on the world. God knows the world would eat me alive if it could. But, God promises that when I move out on mission, he will give me the power of the Holy Spirit.
When you stop and think about it, is there anything you couldn't do if you had the power of the Holy Spirit. If the same spirit that shaped the universe lives inside you, couldn't you pretty much do whatever you wanted to? If the same spirit that defeated death so that we could have a relationship with God lives inside you, couldn't you love/forgive/heal/help/encourage anyone and everyone?
How awesome is it that the God we serve loves us so much that he is willing to dwell inside of us? To work through us? To encourage us? To let us make our own choices? To save us?
We serve a mighty God who will one day make his greatness known to the whole world, and yet we try to fit him into this little box so that we can try to understand him. I don't know about you, but I don't want to understand him completely. If God could be explained, then he isn't much of a God.
Here is what I do know.
As Blake said on Sunday, "You have access to the power of the Holy Spirit every day!"
How do we access it?
1. We stop trying harder.
I am so guilty of trying harder. I make a pretty good effort too. I'm good at creating little processes for myself to keep myself safe from my sins. I'm great at remembering little sayings that remind me why I am trying harder. But, personal effort can only go so far. Eventually, trying harder gets too hard.
2. Surrender more.
What if we surrendered to God's call on our life and let him work through us? What if we gave it all up to him? What if we completely sold out to God? The more we surrender our will to him, the more he can work through us. And if God is working through us, then we are filled with the Holy Spirit. And if we are filled with the Holy Spirit, then we are free.
Crazy how that works.
If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it.
We, as believers, have the power of the Holy Spirit living inside of us. We just have to let it show itself. Sure, it might mean that what you want takes a back seat to what God wants. But, in the end, what God can do through us is so much bigger than what we can do on our own. We, like Blake said, need to stop going to church and start being the church.
Come out and join us this Sunday as we close out another series. Bring a friend. Experience God.