Tag Archives: spiritual gifts

Spiritual But Not Religious?

Some people say they are spiritual, but not religious. That resonates well in a culture that views the word “religion” as something negative. They always note the failures of churches but rarely notice the successes.

Others say they are spiritual, but not affiliated. That works for people who don’t want to participate in efforts requiring cooperation. They have apparently concluded that commitment and devotion to groups is too much trouble. Any kind of membership is best avoided, supposedly.

Religion and affiliation imply organization, institution, policies, and politics. These things come into play when groups of people work together toward a common goal.

It’s true, working with a group can be challenging. Sometimes group efforts generate disagreements and conflicts. Then the negative aspects of politics surface. Power struggles and ideological divisions can be maddening. The results can be frustrating, causing more harm than good.

Why can’t we avoid the risk of organizations and institutions and simply pursue our individual personal spiritual lives on our own terms, at our own speed, to enrich ourselves? What does the Bible say?

When reaching out to believers in Rome, the Apostle Paul wrote:

Just as we have many members in our one body, and all the members do not have the same function, in the same way we are many members in the one body of Christ, and all the members belong to one another. (Romans 12:4-5)

The various parts of the human body need one another to function and grow. In the same way, followers of Jesus need one another to serve God and grow spiritually.

God has distributed different spiritual gifts to each believer. These special skills are vital for the health of the group, the church. No individual believer has all the spiritual gifts that he or she needs to serve God well and to grow toward maturity in Christ. Every believer needs other believers to succeed at being spiritual.

The community aspect of Christian life is also emphasized in Ephesians 2. There, we read about something that I like to call the KOG, FOG, TOG.

KOG stands for the kingdom of God. Every believer is a citizen in God’s kingdom. Citizens need one another. Without patriotic cooperation, a nation is weak, ineffective, and vulnerable to its enemies. Working together, citizens are strong, secure, and productive.

FOG stands for the family of God. Every believer is a brother or sister in God’s family. Families may squabble at times, but they love one another and care for one another. God is our Father in heaven. His amazing love binds us together, enabling us to share our joys and sorrows.

TOG stands for the temple of God. Scripture tells us that believers are living stones in God’s temple, the place where he dwells through the presence of his Spirit. Only when they are carefully joined together do stones become a beautiful cathedral or sanctuary for meeting God and standing in his presence.

Each Christian is sealed with the presence of God’s Holy Spirit dwelling in the heart. The presence of God in each believer draws Christians together into community. If someone has no desire for fellowship with brothers and sisters in Christ, it is a danger sign that the Holy Spirit may be absent from that person.

These pictures of the Christian life all speak of unity in diversity. One body with different parts. One kingdom with different citizens. One family with different members. One temple with different stones.

More than unity in diversity, these depictions of the Christian church speak of mutuality. Believers have a mutual relationship with one another. The New Testament assures us that every believer is endowed by God’s Spirit with spiritual gifts. Every believer has an important contribution to make to the church, the body of Christ.

Group efforts can be challenging, but they are often extremely rewarding. If any group is worthy of our effort, it is the church.

I love Jesus. Jesus loves the church. So, I love the church.

Jesus doesn’t love the church because she earned his love or because she deserves his love. Jesus loves the church by the grace of God. We, too, should love the church by the grace of God.

May the Lord our God bind us together in Christian love,

Brother Richard Foster

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What The Church Needs from Each of Us

In order to carry out her mission, God’s local church requires three things from her members: attendance, service and giving.

Regular attendance at church keeps us in fellowship with God and with one another. It is true that we can commune with God anytime and anywhere. But our Lord instructs us to honor him in a special way each Sabbath. To go fishing on the Lord’s Day and pretend that we are focused on him is an insult to the Savior.

When we worship regularly, we draw nearer to God and he draws nearer to us. As we honor him through our obedience, he honors us by revealing more of himself and his plan to us.

Our church family is on a spiritual journey. When we are away, we miss part of the story. When we are consistently present, God gives us insights that build upon one another. Sporadic attendance leaves gaps that deny us the full picture.

Regular church attendance also enables us to maintain stronger relationships with our brothers and sisters in Christ. The familiarity we gain by regularly worshiping together enables us to encourage each other in our Christian walk.

Faithful service at church keeps us growing as a church family and as individual believers. Church is not a spectator sport. When we attend sports events, movies, and concerts, we expect gifted professionals to do all the work while we sit back and enjoy. Church is different.

Every follower of Jesus has the same indwelling presence of God. But each believer is given different spiritual gifts. These abilities are given by God for the growth of his church. In the Body of Christ, everyone is vital to the health of all the others.

As we serve faithfully in the local church, we grow stronger in our personal faith. Service in the church enables us to see God’s hand at work in a variety of circumstances. As a result, we move closer to the heart of God.

Steady giving keeps us grateful to God and invested in his Kingdom. When we pay for products and services in the world, we look for the most ‘bang for the buck.’ Tithes and offerings are different.

Giving to the church is based on our understanding that everything we have already belongs to God. What we give is an act of worship, acknowledging God as our Maker and Sustainer and reminding us that what remains in our hand is his blessing, not our due.

By consistently giving to God’s work in the local church we gain a sense of ownership and pride in the Lord’s work. Giving to God’s work is an expression of confidence that his Kingdom is worthy. It is of the highest value.

Our tithes and offerings finance the ministries of the local church, reaching lost souls with the gospel and strengthening saved spirits with the Word. God is giving us the opportunity to store up treasure in heaven, an investment that cannot be lost or stolen.

God is carrying out his Kingdom work in this age through his church. He has promised that his church will be victorious. Not even the gates of hell will be able to stand against her. We share in God’s triumph through his church by regularly attending, faithfully serving, and steadily giving.

May God’s Holy Spirit inspire and empower us to support his church and share his victory,

Brother Richard

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