Hey Church Family!
Have you ever wondered how to grow deeper in your relationship with God? It's a question I get asked from time to time. I get very excited when I am asked the question. I usually ask some probing questions in order to find out a little more. Often, I will begin with questions about prayer and scripture. If you want to grow deeper in your relationship with God, prayer and scripture is a great place to start.
On a deeper level, however, prayer and scripture will only get you so far. The reason is that prayer and scripture are one dimensional. Don't get me wrong—prayer and scripture are vital and necessary for a growing relationship. It's just that one glance at much of Jesus' teaching has far more to do with our relationship with the people around us than it does with scripture and prayer. In fact, one clear message found throughout Jesus' teaching is that our right relationship with God is demonstrated in our right relationship with each other.
For example, if you harmed one of my kids, guess who's going to have a problem with you. If momma bear doesn't get to you first, it's gonna be papa bear. And until you make things right with my kids, things will never be right between us. You can praise me. We can meet together, eat together, work together. You could even contribute money to my retirement account—but none of that would matter until you fixed what happened between you and my kid. But if you loved on my kids, made them feel encouraged and excited about life, or if you demonstrated that you cared deeply about them—then you and I are going to be on great terms.
I think God's view is a bit similar to that. Our relationship with God isn't right if we fail to have right relationships with one another. We can worship him, sing songs to his name, even contribute money to the church—but if we're not living in right fellowship with one another, our fellowship with God is hindered. (For more on this, see Matthew 5:23-24; 5:43-48).
We're called to be ambitious for others' sake. The words of Paul ring out, "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others" (Philippians 2:3-4). When you have compassion for one another—when you serve each other—God changes you. Part of how God transforms you is helping you get past yourself and caring about other people.
How do we do this? This past week I challenged each of us to do three things over this coming year:
Together in Christ,
Notes from the Staff @The Woods