Grabill Missionary Church
Thursday, May 23, 2013
grow your life, change your world
You are at this page because somehow, in some way, sometime recently you said "yes" to God.
So now what?
You are now in a serious relationship. With God.
Some people talk about being Christ followers. This is a great image. It is the image of the disciples, people who followed Jesus around, listened to him, did what he said, usually. Sometimes they understood what he was saying. Sometimes they didn't. Sometimes they said profound things. Sometimes they sounded foolish.
But Jesus was patient with these people because...he loved them. His whole reason for walking around on earth was because he loved people, one at a time and all together.
Whether you prayed a prayer ("Dear Jesus, please come into my heart") or looked at the sky and said, "God, you are God.", what you did was to tell God that you want to follow him. You don't understand it all yet (and never will) but that's fine. What he wants is...followers.
Talk to God
It makes sense, in any new relationship, to talk to the other person. When it comes to a relationship with God, praying is what people usually call this. But think of it as talking with someone.
But who exactly do I talk to?
One of the challenging things is that Christians talk about God as being One and also three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Sometimes we talk about God and sometimes we talk about Jesus.
So who do you talk to? Do you have to keep track of which one you are talking to? Which one do you make eye contact with when you can't see any of them?
God only knows.
That's not a smart-aleck answer. It's the truth. God has been revealed to us, by God, as three persons. There is the Father, the creator, the almighty. There is the Son, Jesus, who is completely God and then put on a body and was at the same time completely human. Somehow, he was 100 percent two different things. There is the Spirit, the breath of God, the wind, the fire.
Why does it have to be so confusing? I don't know. But we do know that when we read that "God is love", it is describing the reality that God exists as relationship. We know that God knows what it is like to lose a child, that God knows what it is like to be rejected by a parent, that God knows what it is like to live life, that God is completely outside of time, that God can move through us and be outside us and be all powerful without overwhelming us.
So when you talk to God, you can talk to each person or to all three at once.
Listen to God
Because this is a relationship (rather than a set of rules), you know it's likely that God will want to talk with you.
Sometimes He uses voices when no one is around. (Yes, it's spooky. But when it happens, it's not so spooky.)
Most often, God points us to what He has already said. We call the collection of these words the Bible. It's actually a collection of letters, histories, poems, sermons, and predictions. Sometimes it's like an FAQ (frequently asked questions). Sometimes it's like a set of love letters. Sometimes it's just confusing. But that's okay.
You may want to start reading at the beginning. If you are a start at the beginning person, that's fine.
As you read, read as much as you want. When something does not make sense, ask God to help you understand and then keep going. You are talking to the author, after all. The understanding will come.
So what are the expectations?
Do you have to read everyday? Do you have to pray all the time? Do you have to be perfect?
When you are trying to get to know someone, how often do you talk with them? How often do you read about them?
But it's mostly because you want to.
Respond to God.
He's going to ask you to live differently. But it isn't going to necessarily be like the cliches we have about Christians (boring, depressing, intense).
The summary is this: Love God in every way you can. Love others like you love yourself.
It sounds pretty simple, doesn't it. And it is simpler than we usually make it. Being human, we want to make a bunch of rules and then live by the rules. There are some limits. But when WE build the rules, WE start to think we're pretty good, that we are behaving well.
But we hate it when someone decides what they think we will like. You know how your aunt decided that you liked rhubarb pie and makes it every time you come. You don't have the heart to tell her that you said you liked it that one time because your mom told you to be polite. You know how annoying that is?
We do that to God all the time. Because we don't ask him what he wants and we don't listen when he tells us.
So ask him. "God, I'm committed to love you with all my heart. With all my affection. What is keeping me from that? What's messing up my heart?"
The loving others part is tough. You may not love yourself very much. But God does. Remember that he died for you. That's how much you are loved. So start believing that you are worth something in his eyes. Ask him for help. And then love other people as if they are loved by God the way you are.
Go to church.
Ah, you knew it was coming. You have to start showing up on Sunday morning for a performance wearing fancy clothes and smiling.
But that isn't church. The Church is the people who are willing to follow Jesus. People like you. Sometimes we gather on Sunday mornings. Sometimes we get together for supper. Sometimes we get together to rebuild houses after hurricanes.
Jesus told his followers that wherever there are two or three of them together, he's there. The Bible talks about large groups and small groups.
So going to church means that you have to spend time with other Christ followers.
Sometimes this will be in a large group singing songs and listening to teaching. That's a helpful thing, an opportunity for shared experience. Sometimes this will be with a group of people like a book club, getting together to laugh and discuss and argue. Sometimes this will be at a hospital or a clinic or a hospice, just a couple of you visiting and holding a hand and saying, "God? Could you help? This hurts." Sometimes this will even be a married couple or a mother and son trying to understand how to live love.
There are options about where. But one thing is not optional. You have to get together.
Because, God knows, it's impossible to live alone as a Christ follower.
That's a start.
You are at the beginning of a life of change and growth. Like a friendship, marriage, business partnership, a relationship with God is always changing. It's not that God leaves, but he does move. And we need to keep following. The scenery changes. The challenges change. The more we understand, the more we don't understand.
But one thing never changes.
God loves you.
It's a relationship, after all.
Let us know how we can help. We're Grabill Missionary Church.