Men, I want to thank you for attending our PUSHBACK retreat this past weekend. As several men shared, God is doing something powerful at Restoration Road Church. Our church is not perfect; we are never perfectly balanced; we are never wise enough to not be desperate. Despite our insufficiencies and weaknesses, God has blessed us with an amazing church full of amazing people. With every passing day, God reveals more leaders who are willing to serve and servants who are willing to lead. God has done all of this by His grace. He has brought us all together onto the same field to be friends, brothers, and co-laborers for His glory and our joy. Below are a few of my personal reflections from this weekend’s instruction. They are more like reminders of who we are in Christ…
We are not selfish consumers. We are selfless worshipers.
Jesus said it is better to give than receive. Consumers take. Consumers complain. Consumers are passive and only participate when they benefit personally. Consumers only ask what others can do for them, not what they can do for others. Consumers are selfish. We must be worshippers who contribute. Motivated by Jesus’ service to us, we do not wait for the pastor or a program to meet our needs-we work to meet the needs of others. Our living, our loving, our serving, and our sacrificing are all our spiritual worship.
We are not abandoned orphans. We are a kingdom family.
Jesus said we are his brothers. The church, community centered on the gospel, is not an addendum to our Christian life. Jesus did not merely die for individuals; he died for His church. The Bible says the church is his family and his body. As a family, the love we have for one another is our greatest evangelistic tool. We need to be known and to know. We need to be encouraged and encourage. We need to admonish and be admonished. We need to love and be loved. As a body, we are healed with, guarded by, built up in this love together—we need each other to grow, to heal, and to succeed.
We are not sentimental believers. We are disciples of the way.
Jesus said to follow Him. Jesus did not merely call us to ascent to certain truths but to live a certain WAY. Faith in the gospel transforms us into new creatures with a different identity, a different mentality, and a different trajectory. We have, therefore, lives foreign to the world because, even though we live in one kingdom, we are governed by another. We become who we are supposed to be in Christ as we endeavor to live out who Jesus says we are.
We are not worldly citizens. We are exiled ambassadors.
Jesus said to go, make disciples, baptize, and teach. We have a job to do, a hill to charge, a mission to complete. This I not our home, we are exiles. More than that, we are sojourners, aliens, and ambassadors in a foreign land. As exiles, we must fight becoming too attached to the things of this world, the things that won’t last—positions, power, prosperity, and even particular people. All of these things will fight to distract us from our primary purpose to work for God until He returns or calls us home. Until then, even though we are living in one kingdom, we are governed by another.
From who are WE to who am I
The spirit of this retreat tempts us to spend our time examining our church. Ironically, we are tempted toward a reflective consumerism. How quickly we forget that the church is not an impersonal organization; it is a gathering of disciples. In other words, we are the church. As we unavoidably consider where our church is “weak”, let us obey the apostle Paul’s command to do the hard and humbling work of examining ourselves (2Corinthians 13.5). How do you to this?
Step 1 | Consider that the Bible calls you to mature spiritually. Spiritual maturity is unlike physical maturity—it doesn’t happen naturally. Stated simply, spiritual maturity is the growth of a personal love for Jesus and an increased devotion to Jesus. Jesus is the motivation, the means, and the model for this maturity.
Step 2 | Evaluate your level of satisfaction as a follower of Christ—someone who intends to live like Christ. Some helpful categories to use (certainly not comprehensive) are a worshipper, family member, disciple, and ambassador. Where are you as a worshipper (relationship to God), a family member (relationship to church), a disciple (relationship to self), and ambassador (relationship to the world). If you must make comparisons, compare yourself with Jesus so as to avoid self-delusion.
Step 3 | Make a plan. Paul tells Timothy to “train yourself for Godliness” (1Timothy 4.7-8). Motivated, empowered, and guided by the person and work of Jesus, we are to be intentional about our maturity. Training intending to impress God is sinful. Training because God is already impressed with you is joyful. As I have often said, God will delight but not love you more for your commitment to read, pray, serve or witness more than you have. But, undoubtedly, you will end up loving Him.