Some of you are at a tipping point. What is a ‘tipping point’? Here are two definitions…
- the point at which a series of small changes or incidents becomes significant enough to cause a larger, more important change – Oxford
- the critical point in a situation, process, or system beyond which a significant and often unstoppable effect or change takes place – Merriam-Webster
Some of you are at a tipping point in your faith in Christ, and how we’re designed to live out that faith in the context of a local church family. Small changes or incidents have and are occurring in the rhythms of your lives that are actively leading toward significant changes that will have wide-reaching affects that stretch far beyond yourselves.
And I’m not trying to be melodramatic, hyperbolic or exaggerated. The world has enough of that clickbait rhetoric right now. Rather, I’m trying to help you and I see how these seemingly small decisions we are making, in our daily way of life, have much larger affects over the duration of our lives and the generations that follow us.
There are potential tipping points in our lives around an endless list of subjects. For this post, I want to draw our attention to whether the trajectory of our lives is toward or away community in a local church family.
Which is it? Toward or away?
Some of you are actively and intentionally moving toward fellow believers in the local church. It is not like you and I are batting 1000% on that pursuit either. We have moments where our flesh says, “Hide! Retreat! Isolate.” Or maybe that is just me? But, by the grace of God, the trajectory is toward the family of God. I see so many of you actively trying to move toward regular gathering and community. And it takes intentionality, doesn’t it? We don’t drift toward community that is in the light of the gospel, if our flesh is at the rudder. For instance, I know a household who has been disengaged in church life for over two years. But lately, they’ve been making a series of small changes (aka: intentionality) and their lives are tipping back toward the direction of community in the local church. Praise God!
Some of you are actively and passively moving away from fellow believers in the local church. You’re adrift right now. And the reasons as to why, are varied. From frustration or weariness in life, to being hurt by or hurting other believers, to the disruption that a global pandemic has been to life, etc. I’m not here to dismiss or discount the reasons. Rather, I’m here to encourage your heart that the path away from engagement in the local church will not lead to life. Isolation, while seemingly comfortable, is detrimental to our spiritual life and growth, let alone a prime opportunity for our spiritual enemy who is on the prowl.
And if you’re reading this, and you know you’re drifting away, please don’t hear a tone of guilt or condemnation in these typed words. Rather, I hope you hear love. Love for your soul, for your life, let alone the lives of those around you and who follow you. Guilt is a terrible motivator, let alone won’t get to the heart of the matter. God’s grace, though, is what transforms us from the inside out. May you hear and know of God’s grace that is calling you back toward His family.
And no, this is not simply about attending a church service. Let us not reduce the Christian life to simply that one weekly event. And yet, let us also not skip over such a vital rhythm, wrongly thinking that we can pursue a healthy, growing, mission-minded Christian life apart from the historic rhythms of gathering, singing, greeting, fellowshipping, praying, serving, hearing the Word taught and the gospel proclaimed.
Brothers and sisters, we need one another. Screens and social media are terribly inadequate substitutes for the face to face fellowship that we’ve been designed for. The gospel of God’s grace has brought us near to the Lord and to one another. The “one anothers” in the New Testament can’t be lived in isolation. The church is healthiest, and you and I are the healthiest, when we’re engaged in gospel-centered, mutual community in the family of faith.
And yes, the local church is imperfect. At the beginning of our membership classes, I read this quote from Charles Spurgeon, a pastor in the 1800’s.
You that are members of the church have not found it perfect and I hope that you feel almost glad that you have not. If I had never joined a Church till I had found one that was perfect, I should never have joined one at all! And the moment I did join it, if I had found one, I should have spoiled it, for it would not have been a perfect Church after I had become a member of it. Still, imperfect as it is, it is the dearest place on earth to us…the Church is faulty, but that is no excuse for your not joining it, if you are the Lord’s. Nor need your own faults keep you back, for the Church is not an institution for perfect people, but a sanctuary for sinners saved by Grace, who, though they are saved, are still sinners and need all the help they can derive from the sympathy and guidance of their fellow Believers.
If the trajectory in your life is toward community in the local church, your walk by faith is worth it. Keep pursuing intentionality and responding to His grace. Those small actions you’re taking, are serving as a tipping point that will cause larger and more important changes in your lives both now and years down the road. Let alone in the generations that follow you.
If the trajectory in your life is drifting away from community in the local church, turn back and start intentionally and prayerfully taking small, faith-filled steps. Hear the grace of God in Hebrews 10:24-25 that says, And let us consider one another in order to provoke love and good works, not neglecting to gather together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging each other, and all the more as you see the day approaching.
His grace abounds, loved ones. And one way we experience His grace is through life in the local church.