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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

We are the church

If you find any comfort from being in the Anointed, if His love brings you some encouragement, if you experience true companionship with the Spirit, if His tenderness and mercy fill your heart; then, brothers and sisters, here is one thing that would complete my joy—come together as one in mind and spirit and purpose, sharing in the same love.  (Philippians 1:1-2 VOICE)

Comfort - encouragement - companionship - tenderness - mercy...
What fills your heart? What encourages your spirit? What energizes your thoughts? What gives "lift" to your step and forward motion to your actions? What gives balance to your emotions? If you can answer "Christ" to all of these, then you are probably pretty saturated in the peace of Christ!  Your comfort isn't found in things you own or the stuff you might be able to "see", but rather it comes from being embraced by his grace, tenderly touched by his mercy, and wrapped up squarely in relationship with him!

The very next step in developing a strong walk with Christ is to begin to relate to one another as we go along in this walk. As I have said on more than one occasion before, we aren't meant to walk this thing out alone.  Most of life's challenges are not meant to be "self-study"!  They are meant to be faced with each other - maybe so that we will grow, but it could also be that the other one we are walking with needs to see us go through the challenge so they can face their own!  I used to think I had to be pretty "bottled up" about some of the stuff I struggled with in life until I realized I was cutting myself off from what just might be the help I needed to actually see things from a different perspective than I had been able to see myself!

My pastor likes say that the church isn't a place, it is the people who fill the place - it is us!  If you truly think on that one then anytime two or more of us are anywhere together, we are having church! So, does that mean if we are hiking the hillside together we are "in church"?  Yup. Does that mean if we are putting a room together that badly needs a make-over we are having "church"? Yup. Does that mean when we stroll the shops together on a lazy Saturday afternoon, just looking for a good bargain we are "being the church"?  Yup.  We don't have to be raising our hands in worship, swaying to some song being played on the stage, or sitting circumspectly as the pastor preaches a sermon to be "in church".  If we are "in Christ", then when we are anywhere, we are "in church" because we are the church.

Our purpose is to come together - as one in mind, spirit, and purpose. In that sense, when we are engaged in any project, even the ones that seem a little like leisure, we are in a place of representing Christ to each other and helping each other to grow a little.  As I have said, nothing speaks louder than our actions - how we live our this comfort we have experienced, extend the same mercy we have received without measure to those who might just need a little of it themselves, and just plain show how much love God has embraced us with in our actions is what counts.  God's love isn't just for us - it is meant to be lived out "in community" - with those he places purposefully in our paths. They may not all be "ideal" in their own walk with Christ, but if we are on this mission of learning to embrace his grace and love together, then we are going to move toward that goal together!  Just sayin!