A good friend who follows this blog asked what my recent posts have got to do with Bride-in-waiting — the Church before our Lord returns. Everything! Firstly, when you are living life to the fullest as in John 10:10 (“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”), you are probably doing the obvious and getting ahead and living a fulfilled life!
Even when there are setbacks, you can cope, because you are living out your desires, your dreams. God knows it is a great blessing when our desires are met. Isn’t that why He said: “Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”? (Proverbs 37:4) What does “delight in the Lord” mean? I think it is knowing who you are in Christ — if you are a Christian.
When we know who we are in Christ, we become confident and will not be afraid to be ourselves. We do not conform to anyone’s expectations of us and we don’t find our worth in status, rank, wealth, accomplishments — the external trappings. Our self-worth comes from the knowledge that we can accept ourselves because He accepts us as we are!
So, we revel in Him and that is “delighting in Him”! It is not the same as obedience to Christ. That involves an act of will by faith in response to Scripture. “Delighting in Him” is knowing that we are free in Him — except that we can’t sin and we have to be sensitive to those around us so that we do not undermine their faith. It is like a child who is secure in his or her father’s love. As a secure person, he/she confidently ventures out and grows in the process. He/she confidently reaches out for the things he/she wants and gets them because his/her desires are freed in the assurance that the father understands. You don’t need to teach a secure child all this. He/She just knows and acts spontaneously!
Some people are laid back and rest in Him and do not want. Even they, though, when they find something they really want will trust in our Lord and take steps to get it. Go-getters, of course, strike out ahead and wait for no one! It is in going out and getting what we want that we explore who we are and discover ourselves. When we do these things by trusting Him every step of the way, we experience how our Lord affirms us, while correcting us as we go along. Some things we won’t get or we may have to adjust our expectations and consider other options, but we grow through it all and the companionship of our Lord in the journey further affirms who we are. We begin to like ourselves, and we become fulfilled because our desires are met in one way or another!
Fulfilled Christians are less likely to leave the faith. There are many reasons why Christians leave the faith. As Scripture says this will happen in the end times. But, if we can help them keep the faith, we should.
The underlying reason why people leave the faith is because they are not fulfilled. The faith, somehow, didn’t work for them. They see outside the church people living anyhow they want to and getting some fulfillment. Unfulfilled, that may be attractive to them. At some point it becomes a good reason to abandon the faith altogether!
Leaders need to understand this, and, not neglect the area of spiritual personal growth. Personal development is as important as church growth and evangelism and churches should make room for it. In the end, when we are unable to meet as a corporate body for whatever reason, it is those who are personally fulfilled who will find the faith and strength in Him to keep the faith. I believe we need to take this issue seriously.
Why did I write one entire post on talking? Because the world is getting pluralistic. Communities are no longer contained by borders and are moving around and the result is that cultures are converging, if not actually colliding. If we don’t understand the cultures we are dealing with, we may end up alienated and we will fail to be a testimony. The surest way of removing our biases and understanding people is by talking to — engaging — them.
It is the foundation of relationships.When we can talk as equals we affirm the other person and that opens the way for a relationship and understanding of the other. We will come across as real people willing to recognise and accept differences because we now understand, and, that might be a better and more acceptable testimony to others in the real world than cars, fine clothes, houses, big buildings and such.