Finding Your Place

by Dianna Delgado

I hate church!

Does that surprise you? Well - I don't now, but for a time I did. During that period how I yearned for the living God of the Bible but couldn't find Him in the many places I attended. His Word was read. His name proclaimed, but something vital was absent.

I have found that many Christians today are fed-up with church! They believe in God, they have accepted Jesus Christ as savior at some time, but church attendance just doesn't fit into their lives for one reason or another. Many are just tired of the whole "church" scene finding a social club mentality prevalent at the congregations they have attended. Others find a place where many spiritual and physical needs are met, yet they find some of the teaching and practices are unscriptural. This either leaves them confused or leads to a hardening of the heart if they continue where conscious is violated or imbalanced teaching is taught.

 

For me, during this searching time, conflict resulted in my spiritual life. I constantly cried out to God to "place me in the body" where He knew I belonged. We searched diligently for that place and grieved over appearing unstable from our switching congregations/denominations. Yet we learned many things from the search. One important principle being that the Body of Christ is not isolated to a particular denomination. On the contrary, it transcends denomination.

Since Jesus promised "For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them." He was everywhere we journeyed. However, in many places I could barely discern Him. (Matt 18:20)

I could barely discern His presence in gatherings where every move was literally prearranged and printed on the bulletin: 10:00 Service begins; 10:05 Announcements; 10:15 Singing; 10:30 Message; 10:50 Service dismissed. (So much for being led by the Spirit) What if the Lord wanted to hear another song, or speak an extra message? What if He wanted to release godly sorrow leading to repentance but we were too "orderly" to sense His Spirit moving? (2 Cor. 7:10) We are there to minister to the Lord aren't we?

I could barely discern His presence in gatherings where every move is regulated by "chapter and verse" because the believers were fearful anything "different" might cause God's wrath. Once during a service like this I had an intense urging in my heart to bow before the Lord honoring His Lordship. That's scriptural, yet I knew it was not allowed in this congregation and would be considered a disturbance or looked upon as drawing attention to myself.

I'm ashamed to say I succumbed to man and did not obey my Lord.

My loss! My sin!

Why am I saying these things? Not to hurt the body of Christ but to acknowledge the frustration many feel today. It's difficult to yearn for God - yearn for help in how to reach Him or grow in His word - and not find it where it's supposed to be. Like going to the fig tree expecting fruit and finding none, or going to the well expecting living water and at best finding stale, and at worst finding salt water. It can do one of two things. Cause you to pursue God with fervency on your own, or dry up and give up.

Don't do the latter! Do the former. God is alive and holding open his arms of comfort and rescue. Seek for Him with all your heart and you will find him. He promised!

I did!

 

But first I had to pursue him on my own all the while seeking my place in the body. I had to realize that no congregation or pastor or preacher/teacher could fill my needs. That is the Lord's place - His alone and no one else's.

No one!

But the local pastor/preacher/teacher has his place too. If they aren't filling it, it's time to keep seeking.

What are you to do? First, if you have remained out of fellowship for quite some time - repent - you are in violation of God's command. Do not forsake "the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some." In fact, just as scripture admonishes us, we should be assembling more and more as we rapidly see that Day approaching and difficulties surround us on all sides. (Hebrews 10:25)

 

Even the Lone Ranger had Tonto! Don't go it alone.

 

Second, cry out to God your Father and do not give up. He said He places us in the body where He sees fit. (1 Corinthians 12:18-19) I know this means in giving us spiritual gifts, but also feel He has a particular segment of the Body where you most fit to exercise those gifts, grow, and accommodate His plans for that particular congregation.

Third, decide exactly what it is you are looking for in a church home. Make a list of the items that are important to your search for a church body. A sample list might look something like this.

MOST IMPORTANT

Reverently Fears the Lord

Exalts Jesus As Lord and Savior

Teaches the Whole Truth

Backed By Complete Scripture

Actively Seeks the Lost

IMPORTANT

Offers Sunday School Classes

Practices Regular Fellowship

Friendly and Accepting

Helps Those in Need

MODERATELY IMPORTANT

Location

Service Hours

Then give your list to God. Ask Him to evaluate it and rearrange the priorities of your heart if they are out of His order. Ask Him to add others you didnıt include. (But you must be willing to change if He moves on you heart to do so.)

Continue to ask His guidance and follow it. He may have a circuitous route for you to follow, teaching you along the way as He did us. Allow Him the freedom to lead you down the path He has chosen for your growth. Trust Him! He loves you more than you can imagine.

Hopefully, among the most important qualities you are searching for is balanced, scriptural teaching. If so, how can you determine whether a congregation supports accurate Biblical teaching if you haven't defined what is indeed scriptural? Don't limit your definition of truth to what you have heard or been taught in the past. Don't go back to the denominational handbook that says "Why I'm a Member of Thus and Such Denomination." Do not limit your definition of truth to man's traditions. Jesus constantly confronted the Pharisees for adding man's traditions to the ceremonies established by God. (Man has an uncommon proclivity to add his own ideas to Godıs instruction. As you search the Scriptures you may be surprised to find how much tradition is not actually included in God's word.)

Purchase a good concordance and look up the topics you have questions about. Search out the Hebrew and Greek meanings to words as applied in the Bible. Do a complete word search beginning in the O.T. all the way through the N.T. See if God established a principal from the beginning years that continues until now. See if it changed at the cross, or if scripture is silent on that issue in the New Testament. If it is silent, is that because God determined the subject was settled by earlier instructions? What are the new issues instituted within the New Testament yet foreshadowed by the Old? How does one truly receive salvation? What are the hallmarks of a changed life? Did God dictate every aspect of worship and service, or are some issues freedom of expression.

Then submit every new understanding or revelation of truth to God. Pray, pray, and pray some more asking for His Truth and His alone, willingly submitting your finding to His scrutiny.

In other words, take an active part in your walk with God. Don't be lazy and expect someone else to do all the work of digging out truth. Get up to your elbows in Godıs word. Besides, you might find you enjoy it. There is great peace that comes from studying the Message of Truth and Love that God has provided.

Should you abstain from "going to church" while you study - probably not! You see, if you are Christ's then you are part of the body. Could you do without a toe nail? For a while, but it would hurt every time you wore a shoe; you would live, but you wouldn't walk as surely. As a part of the body of Christ - you are needed. Without you actively participating and growing where you are supposed to be, the good works God assigned to you before the foundation of the world just aren't getting done. (Ephesians 2:10)

Or, someone else is carrying your load.

Some of the Body of Christ are hindered because they are joined to one who believes differently then them. I know some dear people whose marriage is troubled because of these differing beliefs on how to worship God. Romans 14:23 says "whatever is not from faith is sin," and this should offer guidance except that both parties feel they are sinning by participating in the other's form of worship. Since one does not have peace to worship as the other thus extending the "weaker brother" application, what are they to do? Give up worship altogether or go their separate directions? Of course not! Instead, lay aside their differences and discover what God says.

Again create a list, but this time covering the important differences.
The list might look something like this:

A- BELIEVES:

No baptism in Holy Spirit

Miracles, rare if at all

Give money if you can

Lifting hands is weird

Fun in church seems wrong

Women shouldn't teach

God doesn't speak to us

B: BELIEVES:

Baptism in Holy Spirit

Miracles occur today

Tithe is still relevant

Lifting hands shows surrender and praise

God is fun

Women can serve in any way

God still speaks to us


After forming your list make an appointment with the pastor/preacher where each partner prefers to worship. Present your list. Allow him to answer why he believes this practice/teaching is valid. Do not let him attack the other's belief or give his reasoning why it is not true. Only allow him to present why he teaches what he does. Next go to the other partner's pastor and allow him to answer in the same manner. Take notes! Then go home and ask God to reveal His truth to you together. Don't argue! Seek out what God says from the beginning to the end. No one is right except God and when you find His truth, you have both gained. It may hurt or require some humility to admit you have believed a lie - it will definitely take humility not to rub it in if you come to the conclusion that one partner is correct over the other. But you may be surprised to find, neither set of beliefs completely lined up with the full word of God. If so, rejoice! Ask God to heal those wounds in your hearts caused by this division. Forgive your spouse and yourself. Then go after God with all you've got in your new found truth and unity.

I recently saw a car commercial that struck me as so illustrative of I Corinthians 12:15-26. It shows a vehicle made of Legos. You know those little interlocking building blocks children use to make all types of creations. The computer generated commercial shows a constant flow of one Lego after another coming together to build this new automobile declaring that all of the parts have their place. That is how God describes us. When one Lego is missing there is either a gap, or the one above must fall down to fill that place making a column of out of place pieces. We are a body, we need every member. Without you, we are incomplete and cannot finish the assignment God has given as effectively.

We need you! Get up, and get in your place.
We have a job to do! Jesus is counting on us!

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