Do you feel stuck in your life right now? Maybe it's a job, a family situation, health problems or maybe a relationship gone bad.
When my wife and I drove from Lansing this morning to the Ada Bible Church just east of Grand Rapids, I was looking forward to viewing church from a different perspective. I belong to a local congregation of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. For a while I've felt like going to Sunday services never quite opened the right circuit breakers in my heart.
At times, I've really beat myself up about church and my lack of
positive response. I've had trouble connecting to sermons and figuring
out how they connect to my life. The worship seemed to be chained down
by a formula that seems to stay the same regardless of how they change
it. Considering my six decades and a few months of life, I should
revel in tradition and the old way of doing stuff. But, I don't.
I grew up in our denomination that's rooted in a tradition of strong
doctrine based on Martin Luther's interpretation of the Bible.
Everything is focused on Jesus Christ and how we can go to heaven by
using his ticket which he gained for us by dying on the cross and
rising on Easter.
So what's wrong?
The church--at least, our part of it--seems to have grown lukewarm. In
the process, I see my spritual temperature in a stuck position. This
brings me back to this morning.
My expectations of the service at Ada Bible Church were not high. I
just knew that I needed to go to church. Inside my heart there was a
fight. For several years I've been telling myself that I don't need
church. I can worship God without it. I can witness and I can
minister without belonging to a local church body. But, there's
another part of me that acknowledges that God says we need each other.
What I found was not an epiphany that changed my life on the spot.
But, it was another piece of the puzzle taken out of the box that I can
fit into the other pieces.
Jeff Manion's sermon was based on a section of the Bible's book of
Phillipians where Paul writes about being in prison and the effect his
imprisonment has on his attitudes, his motivations, his values and the
goals for his life.
The Apostle Paul responded in a way that reminds me of the radicals
that I remember from the sixties. He was focused. His mission was
clear. He knew what he wanted. He was driven.
In everything that happened to him, he saw an opportunity to build a
bridge to others that showed Jesus and the hope that comes from his
love. Paul was on fire in his passion for Jesus. As a result, the
world around him was changed.
I want some of that Jesus-driven passion. I know the other stuff
doesn't work. It doesn't have any staying power. It will let you
down. Jesus won't I know that.
But, far too often that message for me, at least, has gotten fogged up in church.
Pastor Manion, thanks for the message. I needed it. Hopefully, it can
leverage other pieces in the puzzle box to help get a real fire going
inside of me, one that burns for Jesus.