Guest Post: "Something More"
Have you ever wondered if there is something more to life? I know I have. The daily grind is exhausting and the weekend rest often turns out to be a let-down. I find myself joking with young adults around me that adult life is so much more lame than we thought it would be when we would play house or play doctor.
But, when we answer this question, we usually use our relationship to Jesus. Through Jesus, there is something more. Without a doubt, this is true. Still, life is frequently a bore and feels more like a chore than a joy. Is there something more than our relationship to Jesus?
Perhaps this question looks like it doubts the sufficiency of God. Perhaps it looks like an over-pessimistic kid missing all the silver-linings in the clouds of life. But perhaps it looks biblical.
Is there something more to first century Christians than a personal relationship with Jesus and a dull adult life? Yes, there is! It is called the Church.
Now, we need to take a moment to clarify what this Church is not. This Church is not a building which people come to. It is not an organization led by a pastor. The Church is not a religious store where we stock up on our spiritual food for the week. The Church is not a refueling station so that we can go out and reach the world.
Here is what the Church is.
1 Peter 2:9 (ESV, with italics added)
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
The Church is a people. Other words Peter uses for the church help enlighten us to the meaning. A chose race, a royal priesthood, and a holy nation. We get a feeling that we are a part of something much bigger than just ourselves. No longer is it just a personal relationship with Jesus. It is a corporate relationship with Jesus.
One passage I studied last night drives in the point by telling us more about this Church. Ephesians chapter 4 begins with Paul urging Christians in Ephesus to maintain their unity. The Church, in this passage, is compared to a body. Together, under the leadership of the head of the church (Christ), the believers are to submit to their God-gifted leaders and to build each other up in love. This Church is called to corporately put off the old self and to put on the new self. Listen to these two verses in that corporate call:
Eph. 4:25, 32
Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are one of another.
Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
Instead of just watching out for the interest of one, the Church is called to serve one another. After all, the Church is a body whose members are one of another. The Church is called to be united together by Christ, with such a strong bond that they can be called a totally different people, a nation with the most intense patriotism, a dedicated community of priests, an entirely new race of humans.
Could this be the something more that we are missing? Our churches today run more like fast food joints than Christ-led communities. Think about it. We go in, watch others throw spiritual songs and sermons at us, and walk out. Does this sound like Ephesians 4 to you? It is almost like our churches are designed to throw spiritual fast food at us so we can survive with our personal relationship with Jesus throughout the week.
With this spiritual fast food, we are left on our own to carry out the commands of Ephesians 4. These commands are many and look impossible. How can we put away falsehood, be angry and not sin, labor in honest work so we can be giving, abandon corrupting talk, not grieve the Spirit, put away bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander and malice, and forgive one another as God forgave us in Christ? Obviously, we cannot do this alone and we are not meant to. And when we try to do with a just-me-and-Jesus mentality, things only get a little bit better.
The Church is the answer. In the Church, we get the spiritual gifts of many people to encourage us and exhort us. We get iron sharpening iron. We get accountability. We get guidance. We get leadership. And we get purpose.
That last point is really important. I often find myself relegating my purpose to just me-and-Jesus. I get caught up doing all my tasks (school, work, church, and other time) separate from the Church. I develop my agenda for each. I should take the lesson from this book to enrich my life. I should do my best at my job. I should say hi to the new person at church. I should evangelize to that neighbor I saw the other day.
How many times did I say I in that last paragraph? Far too many. Ephesians 4 pictures a church going after the same purpose, not running off separately in a million different directions. What if my agenda changed to: I should take this lesson from this book to enrich all of our lives. We should help each other excel at our jobs. We should all welcome the new person at church. We encourage each other to evangelize to our neighbors
But, wait, there is more. The Church can be even more impactful if takes it to a whole different level. Now change the agenda to: We should take this lesson from this book we are all reading. We should excel at the jobs that we took in the same company so we could provide a greater witness. We should integrate the new person at church into our daily lives. We should evangelize together with many of our neighbors to those of us who are not members of the Church.
Woah, that is radical. And that is probably where I will lose most readers. But this is the unity of the first century Church. That type unity is life-changing. That unity is a powerful witness to those around us. That unity is something more that we are all yearning for.
Every part of our lives can have purpose. Every part of our lives can have meaning. And that comes through the unity of the Church in our desire for godliness, our love of one another, and our witness to the world.
|Mark Lindgren lives in the Dallas Texas area where he attends school at Southwestern Seminary.|