Friday, June 27, 2014

Spiritual Hugs -- Part 1

image used under Creative Commons license,
courtesy of commons.wikimedia.org
Have you ever had one of those moments when you were certain you were in tune with someone because your thoughts and theirs paralleled or were the same, despite no direct verbal communication about it? At least till the discovery of the unity of thought. I have. And it's been happening a lot, lately. Especially unity with the Spirit. One way I see that is when I'll be studying something on my own or for something I'm writing and the very next message my pastor preaches either is on the exact same thoughts or they dovetail together. Or the next conversation I have, the other party talks about something that goes to the thoughts I've been studying.  That spiritual match up happened one recent Sunday morning with something God had been placing on my heart. 

My pastor started preaching his message. And from the first verse, my mind was racing. My thoughts and the content of the sermon complemented each other. If you've ever seen a child going to someplace special like Disney World, you've seen my mind, that Sunday morning. At the first insight it goes racing off toward the target, then runs back to the parent thoughts, then races off, again. Racing ahead, running back, racing ahead, running back, racing ahead, running back. Till we reached the goal. We shared the video from that. And, as always, there's more. 


The service we mentioned and a recent blog post from a friend of mine got me thinking about our church home, do we need it, and is it a priority?  And what should we look for.  I'll admit from the outset that much of this is subjective, based on my own experience. But that's because I've had a great experience in the ministry I'm in. I get the spiritual hugs mentioned in the title and, more importantly, I have a continually growing relationship with God, because of choosing to be where I am.  So, yes, I use my experience as a standard. And I know one size does not fit all. But what I want to happen from this post is that you think about it, come to your own conclusions, and (if need be) take action.

First of all, I believe the Bible is the Word of God.  It's been considered that since the time of Moses and before.  And there are external documents that corroborate that.  This isn't a discussion of that, so we're not going beyond those statements, in this post.  But what you believe in that area should be foundational in finding a church home.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 (KJV)  All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.

2 Timothy 2:15 (KJV)  Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

Those verses give an interesting set of priorities:
  1. Scripture is from God.
  2. Therefore, it's something I should study.
  3. In order to preach properly, the pastor of my church home should study the Word, as well.
  4. That study should be done properly, by both of us.
  5. The pastor and the church should support and encourage personal study.
So, when we look for a church, that list is a priority.  But, why bother with a church?  We can study on our own, can't we?

Sure, you and I can study on our own and develop a relationship with God.  But consider Romans 10:17 (KJV), "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.".  That's speaking of preaching and teaching.  As important as personal study is, the Word tells us we need preaching and teaching.  It helps us to understand better.  In fact, it's a great check against any misinterpretations we may have.  There's also a mental reality that we learn differently when reading than when hearing.  We need both.

We need church so that we're not gaining the Word in a vacuum, leaving ourselves open to misinterpretation.  And we need church, for a number of reasons, because of ourselves.  That's such a shift in paradigm that we'll get into that in a second part.  For now, consider what we've said about the importance of the Word in church life and the importance of church for our proper handling of Scripture.  More in Part 2.

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