Day 2: Towards Spiritual Clarity
Those who completed the surveys indicated that a closer relationship with God included three important elements: the church, the Bible and open discussion of their faith.
The Simple Life and the Local Church
The local church gets its share of criticism these days. And we Christians often deserve the reviews we get. The church is full of hypocrites. The church has its problems and sometimes presents a bad story to the watching world.
The church of two thousand years ago also had problems. In the church in Jerusalem, people complained that their ministry needs were being ignored. The church at Corinth dealt with terrible infighting, immorality, and the abuse of spiritual gifts. The churches in Galatia struggled with doctrinal issues. Even in the joyous fellowship at Philippi a curious battle took place between two women in the church.
These are only a few of the not-so-pleasant stories we learn about the churches of the New Testament. But we still hunger for the fellowship of God’s people.
Read Hebrews 10:24-25;
“Let us be concerned about one another in order to promote love and good works, not staying away from our meetings, as some habitually do, but encouraging each other, and all the more as you see the day drawing near”
Why do we hunger for church fellowship?
No one claims the church is perfect. But still God’s people come together to encourage one another, worship God together, love one another, and do good works together.
Many of those with whom we spoke don’t attend church regularly, but they admit something is missing from their lives. They seem to understand the need for Christian fellowship. They seem to know that in order to get closer to God, they need to be around others who worship Him.
Do you regularly attend church? Yes No
How does your church help you grow in your relationship with God?
Those who don’t attend church are not anti-church and don’t harbor resentment toward Christians in the church. But when these unchurched people decide to visit a church, they often have to summon great courage to walk into a place where they know few, if any, people. And they often tell me they feel excluded and on the outside (“not part of the club,” one person said matter-of-factly).
It looks like a lot of people may be looking to return to church. We hope we Christians don’t run them off.
The Simple Life and the Bible
The results of this study was fascinating in many ways, but the responses on issues of spirituality were among the most surprising. For example, a whopping 82 percent said the Bible should be their moral compass, their family’s guide, and their blueprint for the simple life.
But here’s the catch. The vast majority of Americans, including church-going Christians, don’t know much about the Bible. The reason? We don’t read the Bible.
89% say it’s important to have a spiritual foundation.
81% say they need to provide stronger spiritual leadership for their children.
82% say they need to live by the values of the Bible.
The Bible is the moral compass for my lite.
The Bible is my family’s guide for instruction and living.
I study the Bible regularly.
I teach the Bible to my children.
If you couldn’t check all four statements, what is causing a disconnect between your priorities and your practices?
The Simple Life and Open Discussion of Faith
Most respondents to the surveys said they need to be open about their Christian faith. Six of 10 bluntly said they should openly discuss spiritual matters with others.
So much for keeping your religion. to yourself
60% say they should openly discuss spiritual matters with others.
Mitchell, a 28-year-old married man from Iowa, expressed the conviction well: “If something really means something to you, you talk about it openly. I am originally from Indianapolis, and I am a diehard Colts fan. You can’t get me to shut up about my Colts. So I don’t think you can really grow in your faith unless you are open about it. That’s what I need to be doing more, especially with my family.”
Early in the life of the Jerusalem church, the religious authorities threatened Peter and John and told them to stop speaking about their faith in Christ. Their response was bold and straightforward: “We are unable to stop speaking about what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:20).
How openly do you talk about your faith?
The simple life means getting closer to Cod. That closeness comes when we unashamedly speak about our beliefs.
Clarity, God, and the Simple Life
Maybe as you have focused on your relationship with God, you realized something is missing from your life. Perhaps you realized someone is missing from your life. And you also realized you will never get your life in order until you give priority to the one who created you.
The Bible teaches that God revealed himself to the world through his Son, Jesus Christ. The imperfect can’t be in the presence of God, who is perfect and holy. That’s people who seem to have it all together. That’s you and me. None of us are good enough or can do enough good things to get to God. Sin keeps us from him. That’s the bad news.
But the good news is that God provided a way for our sins to be forgiven. He sent his Son, Jesus, into the world to die for us, to take the punishment for our sins. The Bible says it clearly: “He made the One who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:21).
And why did God willingly give his Son to die for us? “God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16)
Such is the greatest gift ever offered and given.