This blog is supposed to be, as much as I can, my daily journey through life as a Christian. I hope it to be my thoughts and feelings on life but be as grounded in the Christian message as it can. My intention is not to create a daily readings or bible study guide but to look at my life in terms of a Christian trying to find and follow God's mission using his Life User's Manuel AKA the Bible.

Matthew 10 19-20

And don't you worry about what you'll say or how you'll say it. The right words will be there; the Spirit of your Father will supply the words. - Matthew 10 19-20

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Christian friends

I have some amazing friends, I haven't always. Until I began attending my Church I had a lot of friends, but no one I could rely on. I thought I had good friends, but time and again I would be let down or left short on something. It has come as quite a shock to me that I have managed to acquire such good friends over such a short period of time. These friends have been there when I have needed them most, they have helped me get through some tough times. Even without knowing it they have done so much for me and asked for nothing in return. It has helped my spiritual growth so much to have Christian friends, it has made fixing my problems and issues much easier than if I had been doing it alone.

Jesus never intended us to be in this spiritual journey alone;

Matthew 18:20
    And when two or three of you are together because of me, you can be sure that I'll be there."

Jesus could just have as easily said that "whenever anyone is worshipping my name or doing good in my name, I'll be there". But we are not supposed to be alone in this, we are supposed to be part of His Church, we are supposed to gather and work together.

Matthew 18:19
    When two of you get together on anything at all on earth and make a prayer of it, my Father in heaven goes into action.

This does not mean that God will not answer our individual prayers, but it is a clear sign that both God and Jesus intended us to work together. As the Church we are the body of Christ, and we have all heard the story about how each part of the body must do their job and by working together as a whole the work gets done. Very often in Churches because they are made up of humans we have disagreements and arguments. This will always happen and does not make you a bad Christian. However the way we act in these situations does say a lot about our faith.

Matthew 5:9 (KJV)
    Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.

From time to time there will be situations where we do not agree with the path our Church is taking, or someone's actions within out Church. Jesus is not saying we should just accept the situation and "lose". He is instructing us to do what is necessary to solve the problem but with as little friction as possible, leaving the best impression of being Christlike.

Regular gatherings are also an important part of Christian life. We should be meeting with other Christians often to pray, worship and eat.

Acts 2:42
    They committed themselves to the teaching of the apostles, the life together, the common meal, and the prayers.

By gathering together like this, as a family, we are strengthening the bonds within our fellowship. All three activities are most enjoyable and productive when done in a group. Jesus was not a hermit or a lone wandering preacher, He surrounded Himself with His disciples. He gave us a model for the Church by his dealings with the disciples. How to act, how to follow, how to learn and teach but also in how to gather. The early Church would gather in each others houses to pray worship and eat together, why should we be any different 2000 years on.

So far I have talked about gathering in groups and Jesus wanting us to be together. But there are times in life where we need to be alone or cannot be surrounded by our Church for whatever reason. We are provided for in these situations;

John 14:16 
    I will talk to the Father, and he'll provide you another Friend so that you will always have someone with you. 

The Holy Spirit was given to us so that we would never be alone, the Spirit is our constant companion as a Christian. God promised to always be there for us and to carry us when we can not bear the load. It is through the spirit that this promise is fulfilled. The spirit is a wonderful gift and ensures we are never left alone, however it can not be seen as a replacement for the Church, there should be no such thing as a lone Christian. There are however situations where Christ instructed us to be alone, to remove ourselves from the bustle of daily life;

Matthew 6:6
    "Here's what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won't be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace. 

But this is not a commandment to become a hermit or lead a life of isolation. It is Jesus showing us that at times we require the stillness of being alone in order to fully immerse ourselves in the presence of God. After which we should return to our Church and our lives.

These are just my thoughts which have been triggered by conversations with friends recently. But I know from my experiences with Churches I have attended in the past that when only meeting on a Sunday or even less frequently, the health of a Church decline rapidly. We should not let divisions in our Churches become permanent, we should always be on the lookout for how to heal hurts and fix problems in a way that is best for everyone. A Church is a community which cannot exist in isolation, we must work together within our own Churches but also with The Church in general. This is not a new situation, in fact it has been with the Church from the beginning;

1 Corinthians 3:4-6
    When one of you says, "I'm on Paul's side," and another says, "I'm for Apollos," aren't you being totally infantile? 
    Who do you think Paul is, anyway? Or Apollos, for that matter? Servants, both of us-servants who waited on you as you gradually learned to entrust your lives to our mutual Master. We each carried out our servant assignment.  I planted the seed, Apollos watered the plants, but God made you grow.  

As I already said, disagreements and divisions are an inevitable outcome of having humans together. But at the end of the day we have to remember that we are not just humans, we are also Christians too and should act accordingly when our human nature causes problems.

Finally, Jesus left us with His promises and instructions, I would like to leave you with the one bellow as I feel it is a fitting end to what has become a slightly epic post. I apologise for the length but hope that you find it as helpful to read as I have in writing it.

Matthew 28:20
    Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I'll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age."

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