Sunday evening service is something I have grown to look forward to each week.... right along with Sunday mornings, Wednesday nights, and Thursday nights... :) No but really-- I truly missed getting to be a part of the Sunday evening service while I was in school the past 2 years.
I'm excited to be back and what a blessing it has been.. We are currently going through 2 Timothy together on Sunday evenings and oh man is it heavy, and light, and beautiful, and ugly, and everything in between. I. love. it.
We are discussing the personal relationship that Paul had with Timothy.. and through that understanding of their relationship-- dissecting the letter Paul writes to Timothy. Yup- tears have been shed over these discussions- no joke!
We started off a few weeks ago talking about 'building relationships centered on christ'. It was all about personal relationships. We learned how close Paul and Timothy truly were. They lived so much life together... good bad and ugly. They shared genuine love for one another.
We discussed 4 ways to encourage gospel faithfulness in a personal way and a couple of the points really stood out:
1. Through personal prayer (vs 3)
- How many in this church do I pray for constantly b/c of my shared service to the gospel?
- The more you pray for someone... the closer you will become to that person
2. Through personal relationship (vs 4)
- Paul says 'I remember your tears... I long to see you'... there is power in face to face community with one another. He desired to see Timothy to be filled with joy. How beautiful.. who around us do we invest in and are invested into enough that seeing them would bring joy... to our core?
- They had been through war against sin together
some truly challenging questions/thoughts were posed during the sermon...
-Often times we personalize with others through social events... we don't struggle through sin together- instead we are embarrassed by it or feel as if judgment will be placed on us for struggling with sin. Instead we hide it, and put on the 'church face'... do we realize the intimate community we are missing out on when we do that? We don't build a personal relationship around Christ, we don't discuss the word and His promises/commands together... we 'fellowship' and yet leave the heart of the matter out of it.
Why don't we get personal?
- We will get hurt... people won't meet expectations
- By exposing our hearts to others... gives them ammo to use against us
- We live in 'what ifs' of getting personal
- Maybe we don't want others to know the details of our lives/hearts
- Maybe this type of relationship was never modeled for me and no one has approached me for this type of relationship so that is why it is avoided
I feel so blessed because I can truly say that I have this type of community. Is it perfect - uh NO. But it is beautiful regardless. We have surrounded ourselves most closely with people who love the Lord and who share a passion for intentional conversations, community, food, laughter, truth as we do. We do struggle through things together... we love each other hard. We accept truth in all forms... but work hard to deliver though truth to one another with love and grace.
One of the hardest things about trying to create this type of community that is full of vulnerability, honesty, transparency, love, tears, and laughter is that some don't accept the invitation. Just as we discussed a few sunday evenings ago... some fear being hurt... some fear letting their guard down enough to let someone in. Some fear embarrassment or judgment. This breaks my heart. I've been there... it wasn't until later in college that I started to find the beauty in this genuine community concept. I started questioning things like, 'why do we feel as if we must play a certain role when at church on sundays?'... why do we put on a 'face'... and maybe I'm the only one in the entire world that has ever done that. I'm sick of it... why do we feel the need to be fake around those God placed in our lives with the intention of struggling/crying/laughing/loving one another together?
One of the questions I wrestled with during my early years of college was.. 'do I feel more comfortable outside of the church than I do inside?' To be honest (as you know I will try to be)... I did feel more comfortable outside of the church than inside. Sad- I know. So I took a journey of my heart and found out why... I feared each of the things listed above about getting personal with my church family. Brings me to tears just thinking about it... I can't imagine making it without this community I've been so blessed with.
Yes- there are tough relationships... but I must continue being as genuine as I know how and love hard and love often. It can really hurt--putting your heart out there-- you might even lose friendships over trying to love hard... some will endure these tough seasons... some wont. but through it all... some how... God is glorified (period)
If you're interested in hearing the whole message referenced above (which I highly suggest) it is called 1 Timothy 1:1-7 from 9/23/2012 given by none other than PBC.
What does your community currently look like? What would you like it to look like?