This series on Jesus and His Church that Pastor Duane has been doing has really created an excitement in my spirit. Each of us will readily admit that God is creating something, but it is paramount that we understand our relationship to Christ and His church is at the very epicenter of it all. It’s the level concrete slab the whole house will rest on.
God is a relational God. What was His crowning creation? Man, a being with whom He could commune. What was the world’s first problem? “It’s not good for man to be alone.” So God created a partner for him. I mean, we’re not even to Genesis 3 yet, and already the story hinges on a relationship! When Adam and Eve sinned in the garden, when they broke God’s heart, God responded by seeking to maintain the relationship. He didn’t take his ball and go home. God himself, all powerful, all love and all grace, said to the man and woman just after they’d sinned, “One day, I’m going to make it right again,” then spent the rest of the Old Testament orchestrating events to lead to the one single most important event in history: the death of Jesus on the cross. To think that God isn’t working in relationships is to misunderstand the very essence of His character. It’s missing the point of who He is entirely!
I know that God wants to work through me. Why else would He have put gifts in me that can be used to serve others? I’m not all-knowing by any stretch of the imagination, but when I found in Next Steps that I had gifts of knowledge and wisdom, I wasn’t surprised. It’s been in me since I was young. My parents tell me that even as young as four and five, I’d get up on the coffee table and preach! That’s not me; that’s Jesus in me! But there are things that don’t come so easily to me. The other day, a friend told me, “You know, I heard on the radio about how people struggle with trusting God sometimes, and I just don’t get that. If He said it, it’s true.” I about fell over. Of course I trust God, but that’s usually after I’d taken wayward thoughts captive about a thousand times and spoken scripture over myself! Dear goodness, do I need that kind of faith and friendship holding me up when I struggle with trusting God!
And that’s just one example. I need friends who can believe in healing, who offer encouragement and who serve without feeling like it’s a chore. WE need these things! Yes, I’m striving to become better and grow in those things for myself, but there are times when I will not have it all together. At those times my brothers and sisters, operating in the gifts God has placed in them, will be there for me. That’s Jesus in them! And honestly, what better way to grow those things that aren’t natural in me than by being near someone who excels in them? This is God’s vision: that we honor Jesus, Jesus in us, and the Jesus in others.