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Sometimes I sit in church with the realization that for a lot of folks they think this is the center point of their walk with Jesus. As if, somehow, the fulcrum of the Christian life is attending a worship service?
We’ve been raised (Christian language: Discipled) to make church that “can’t miss” thing of the Christian walk. In evangelicalism, the practical disciplines of the spiritual life are:
- Go to church
- Regular Bible reading
- Daily prayer
If you want bonus points:
- Join a small group
- Serve in a ministry of the church
Don’t get me wrong. I do most of those things on a regular basis. And these are very good expressions of the Christian life.
But these are the peripherals of the Christian life, not the fulcrum.
The church is not the centerpiece of your walk with Jesus. That’s idolatry.
You can’t sit in church and say… “YES! This is it.” Attending church (passive action) isn’t it anymore than watching football on TV is the same as playing in the game. (active participation) Jesus didn’t come so you could go to church. He didn’t tear the veil between Levites and the people so you could watch church. That’s a foundational misunderstanding in the person and action of Christ.
Your load... is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind. That’s so much more than church involvement, reading your Bible, praying, being in a small group, and serving in the church. There’s nothing wrong with those things, but they are too cheap and easy to be “it.”
What Jesus describes is all encompassing. Like two lovers in the first 90 days of their relationship!
Your output… is to love your neighbor as yourself. The output of your walk with Jesus can’t just be church involvement. It’s can’t be about you and your learning. It can’t be about serving at the church. That’s not what Jesus said was the output.
According to Mark 12, the output of loving God with everything is loving your neighbors. (You know, the people next door.)
One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”
“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”