One of the greatest misconceptions plaguing the church today is the belief that faith is a private matter. Just me and God. My faith is personal and real. I have a quiet time. I pray. I worship. I try to avoid sin. I try to be nice to other people and if I feel so led, I might even talk to someone about Jesus. But, overall, my faith is mostly about me and God.
The modern day church has developed what could be called a two-legged spirituality. God and me. So long as your faith works for you that's great but keep it to yourself. Society itself supports spirituality as long as it is kept private and personal.
This has allowed people to become consumers rather than servants and has reduced spirituality to a form of therapeutic moralism that is more about being a good person and personal happiness than it is about serving the Kingdom of God. This is seen throughout the church in the way people hop from church to church because the music is better, the pastor didn't visit me, or the services are more entertaining. In the long list of endless complaints, I have yet to hear a person utter the words "I just felt like I couldn't sacrifice enough for the Kingdom of God in this place so I went to a new church."
To correct this problem we do not need better programs, stricter rules, or any of the other million things that are called "cultural relevance" in the church. We need to understand Christianity for what it is.
To follow Christ is to die to self, take up a cross, and follow Jesus in service and in love.
This death that Jesus talks about leads us away from personal desires and towards the will of God. What is the will of God for your life? The two greatest commandments as quoted by Jesus sum it up.
"Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength."
"Love Your Neighbor as yourself."
There it is. Love of God is expressed through love of neighbor. David Augsburger puts it this way:
"To say yes to the Grace of God is to say yes to neighbor and enemy." Jesus said "Love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you." You see, God's grace is not only about reconciling you to God, but also to your fellow humans. All of them.
So, when we approach the spiritual life as something private, we are violating the very core of what God is wanting to do and change in your life because His love calls us to community.
The Apostle Paul put it this way in his letter to Philemon. He said in verses 4-7:
I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers, because I hear of your love and of the faith that you have toward the Lord Jesus and for all the saints, and I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ. For I have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you. (ESV)
See how many times Paul links love of God with love of others. But, he also links maturity and growth to "the sharing of your faith." This is more than evangelism, but evangelism is definitely a part. The word for sharing that Paul uses is the word "koinonia" which means fellowship. The sharing of his life of faith. As Philemon shares his life of faith it will lead him to have a "full knowledge of every good thing that is us for the sake of Christ."
Thus, we cannot grow and experience Christ, His Spirit, or His blessings if we make faith a private affair. We are called to love and serve others. It IS the expression of our faith. What happens personally by faith MUST be expressed outwardly in love, service and fellowship.
We are called to share the journey of the Christian life in every way we can. In so doing, we become servants of God instead of consumers looking for God to meet my needs and make me happy. It is about spreading God's Kingdom and loving and serving our brothers and sisters in Christ.
So what about you? Are you actively sharing the journey to which God has called you or is faith a private matter between you and God? This truth is why we must be attached to a local church, united to the body of believers. Anyone who says he can worship and serve God without being a part of the church is not serving the God of the Bible but an idol, a creation of one's own mind. Why? Because God has called all of us to love and serve others and we can't do that on our own, thus making our "worship" ineffective and selfish.
It is time for our spirituality to go from two legged to three legged. Instead of God and me, it needs to become God, me, and my neighbor. Spirituality that does not include all three is not a true spirituality. Share the Journey of the Christian life and rise Above Reality.