- 01 Jul
In the busyness of life, so much comes before our faith. As we look at our lives and what lies ahead, there is one thing we can depend on. The one thing that is universally true, has been, is and always will be true. The thing you can depend on is this: “If we have died with Him we shall also live with Him; if we hold out to the end we shall also reign with Him" (2 Tm 2:11-12).
Since this is true, instead of seeing our faith and church as something we have to do, or something that we only do when it is convenient, we should rejoice that the Lord has chosen us to be members of His Body. His invincible, persecuted Church. We are called to love the Church as Christ did. Remember Paul’s words to the Ephesians as to how much Jesus loved the church, “just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Eph 5:25)
What is this thing called church and why is it so important to be a part of it? The church exists when we gather. Without the gathering, there is no church. Down through the centuries the gathering of God’s people took place, and it was fed by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. We are only part of the church when we are part of the ongoing and recurring gathering. In between the gathering of the church we are scattered into society as salt and light. The gathering and scattering goes on continually, like breathing in and breathing out. When it stops, the church stops breathing and dies. The church is therefore a living, functioning and moving organism of God's people.
We are not called to just attend the gathering and be a consumer, we are called to be contributors. Jesus is coming back for His church; how will you feel when He does? The writer of Hebrews encourages us in the context of the gathering to joyfully and humbly, “Be responsive to your pastoral leaders. Listen to their counsel. They are alert to the condition of your lives and work under the strict supervision of God. Contribute to the joy of their leadership, not its drudgery. Why would you want to make things harder for them?” (Heb 13:17 MSG) Did you care for His church? Did you participate in His church? Did you contribute in his church? Did you love His Church? Did you serve His church? Did you invite as many people as possible to give themselves to Jesus and enter His Church?
In a nutshell, did you take your part in the Church and in doing so, build the Church.
The reality is that there is a growing Christian consumerism and individualism which tends to isolate us in our search for peace, purpose and well-being apart from one another. So much comes before His purposes for our lives. Pope Francis brings wisdom in terms of what a church community should be when he says, "A community that cherishes the little details of love, whose members care for one another and create an open and evangelizing environment, is a place where the risen Lord is present" Yes! That's the foundation of what church should be.
This insight by Ray Ortland sums up this pastoral letter well – “If your relationship with your church is ambiguous and sporadic and subject to convenience, the problem is not your relationship with your church. The problem is your relationship with Christ. He has made his loyalty clear. He even delights in his church. He is committed to the revival of the world through the revival of the church. To God, the most important thing in all of created reality is his church, a crown of beauty in his hand. Your own greatest happiness is the revival of your church.”
We are called to live holy lives for Jesus and on our path to holiness we can identify all the more with Jesus’ prayer “that all may be one; even as you, Father, are in me, and I in you” (Jn 17:21).
I leave you with the writer of the book of Hebrews words, “Pray for us. We have no doubts about what we're doing or why, but it's hard going, and we need your prayers. All we care about is living well before God.” (Heb 13:18)