Intentional growth, Loving Others, obedience, Relationships

A Great Time to be God’s Church

What’s become very clear to me during the coronavirus lockdown: The church isn’t a place but a people and exists beyond any walls or boundaries.

And now is a wonderful time to be God’s church in the world.

This is not to make light of what we’re experiencing. People are getting sick and dying from COVID-19 at an alarming rate—and soon, if they aren’t already, these could be our friends and family. It’s scary. Our routines are upended, many have lost jobs and financial security… It’s both surreal and terribly frightening.

But it’s also an opportunity.

See, we hear all the time that the church doesn’t have walls, the church is the people—but still we think of church as a place, a building we go to every Sabbath to sit, pray, sing, hear God’s word, and experience fellowship with our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Now, we are face-to-face with a new reality, and for many of us, that means learning to gather with other Christians and be God’s church in alternative and sometimes uncomfortable ways. I believe that is a good thing.

We are face-to-face with a new reality, and for many of us, that means learning to gather with other Christians and be God’s church in alternative and sometimes uncomfortable ways. I believe that is a good thing. Click To Tweet

We know church isn’t just on Sunday. Church isn’t just a noun but a verb. And church is us, every single one of us, whether we are gathered in person or we’re gathered online. But sometimes in the busy rush of life, we get so caught up in the day-to-day normal routine that we forget this.

Church isn’t just on Sunday. Church isn’t just a noun but a verb. Church is us, every single one of us, whether we are gathered in person or online. Click To Tweet

Right now, though, nothing is normal—except the things of God, which never change. The sun still rises and sets, and the birds still greet each new day with song. God’s love for us is still just as strong, and His promises still stand, timeless and unwavering. And for those of us who are believers, who understand Jesus is the Son of God and the One who saves, the Holy Spirit still ignites our hearts.

The sun still rises and sets, and the birds still greet each new day with song. God’s love for us is still just as strong, and His promises still stand, timeless and unwavering. Click To Tweet.

I believe the Holy Spirit can and does move through each of His children regardless of physical proximity. The Spirit moves through phone lines, through radio frequencies, through the internet and any other brilliant technological method we can imagine. The Spirit moves as we engage on social media, and it’s a glorious thing.

In fact, if you pay attention to faith on social media like I do, you’ve probably noticed some of these extraordinary, innovative things. Phone trees, YouTube and Facebook live worship services, video conference devotionals, and even church radio stations are helping God’s people stay connected. People at one church I know with a daily soup kitchen for the food-insecure are now offering free grab-and-go sandwiches, snacks, drinks, and other prepackaged items each weekday to anyone in need.

It’s beautiful and inspiring, and it all fills me with hope and deep admiration for the children of God who work tirelessly for His Kingdom, who strive day after day to share the Gospel and be God’s hands and feet in the world, whatever that looks like.

I’m not sure how Jesus pictured His church when He stood before His disciple, Peter, and told him, “On this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it” (Matthew 16:18 NIV). But I don’t think He imagined any kind of earthly building. For we know structures, like earthly kingdoms, rise and fall. But God’s kingdom will never be overcome. For God, and God’s people, live on forever, ushering in His glory and His will on earth by whatever means possible. Even in the pandemic. Especially in the pandemic.

bethechurchFB

Jesus knew the future of the church, knew that what would start out as small gatherings would lead to bigger buildings and places, but maybe He’s calling us back to the beginning, to remember it’s more about the togetherness- hearts united and hands clasped.

However we spread the word of God, however we make God famous, however we model His ways and His love in pointing people toward heaven, is “doing church.”

We have a precious gift right now in this pandemic to truly live God’s love beyond church walls—even confined to our homes. What does that mean to you?

We have a precious gift right now in this pandemic to truly live God’s love beyond church walls—even confined to our homes. Click To Tweet.

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The church isn't a place but a people and exists beyond any walls and boundaries. And now is a wonderful time to be God's church in the world. Click To Tweet

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Intentional growth

Becoming Like the One We Love

Becoming Like the One We Love

by Wholly Loved Editor, Yvonne Anderson

My daughter rolled her eyes and groaned. Once again, the mother of one of her friends told me, “I can tell she’s your daughter. She looks just like you.”

Being in my early 40s, I enjoyed being told I looked like my sixteen-year-old, but she obviously didn’t like it. That’s why I laughed when her tween-aged daughter recently looked back and forth between us and declared, “You look like Mom!”

The same is true of God’s children. No matter what our size, shape, or nationality, every Christian will look more like Jesus as we mature. “Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when He appears we shall be like Him…” 1 John 3:2, ESV.

The Apostle Paul wrote, “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways” (1 Corinthians 13:11, ESV). When we “grow up” spiritually, we come to resemble God.

As spiritual children, we shouldn’t expect to be carried our whole lives—we must get up on our feet and walk. Instead of being content to let others spoon-feed us, we should learn to study the Bible on our own. Rather than hanging back, we’re called to put aside our fears and follow God into new experiences.

Many years ago, a pastor shared a beautiful illustration of this. He told of the first time he took his young son, Jay, swimming in a lake.

The father picked the boy up and slowly walked out into the shallow water. Jay hung on tightly. When the water reached his little feet, he pulled his legs up higher and whimpered. The father continued wading away from shore, the water rose higher, and the child screamed in terror.

His father, of course, knew the child was safe. “It’s okay! I’ve got you!” But the boy continued to cry.

His father stood still, waiting for his son to calm down. “It’s okay. See? I’m holding you. Don’t you know I won’t let you go?”

Jay screamed all the louder, refusing to be comforted. His father felt anger rising within. What’s the matter with this kid? Why doesn’t he trust me?

That’s when he saw the scenario as an analogy for his own life—for all our lives. When the Lord encourages us to grow up, to put aside our fears and trust him, we’re not always willing to do it even when we know it’s to our benefit. We’re afraid to trust the Father who holds us despite His assurances, “I will never let you go.”

If we will only trust Him, He’ll teach us to swim in the turbulent waves of our world. After Image of woman in the oceanwe’ve practiced, people who see our strong stroke will say, “I can tell you’re His child. You’re much like Him.”

Let’s talk about this! In what ways are you afraid to grow up spiritually? To what do you hold tight like a child with a security blanket?

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