#6. Assume that all Christians are Christians.
I used to think that everyone who sat in churches knew exactly what it meant to be a Christian. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve met who are doing a lot of church things, yet their heart is so far removed from being regenerated/born-again.
They don’t think at all about God Mon-Sat. Their character and actions don’t represent sanctification. They have religion but not a relationship.
These are the people Jesus refers to when he says depart from me I never knew you. (Matthew 7:23)
I know, you never know where people’s hearts are. I’d argue that if you know them well enough, you sort of do.
All I’m saying is, don’t assume that because someone attends church means they’re truly regenerated and repentant Christians. This is actually a good thing. Preach that Word Preacher. Faith comes from hearing the word of God.
It’s just surprising that many identify as a Christian but don’t actually subscribe to Christian living. I’ve literally had conversations with people from local churches who don’t believe that Jesus is the only path to salvation.
No, you don’t have to spend your time trying to figure out if someone is saved or not. We plant the seeds, God will grow. 1 Cor 3:6
If anything, wrestle with your own salvation. I recently did a sermon about being assured from 1 John. Check it out here: https://theoamberpodcast.simplecast.com/episodes/my-wrestling-match-with-my-salvation-brought-me-peace
#7. Think that a good looking church has it all together.
I used to want to be apart of the mega church atmosphere. Wow, look at the stage, the lights, the crowd, the professionalism, the growth, the loudness.
I’m not saying some big churches aren’t doing amazing things. Or that if you have a mega church you can’t do good things. But God has given me the gifts of experience and insight into the behind the scenes.
I just want you to know that looks don’t mean they have something that you don’t have. The ability to worship God can happen wherever you’re at. The Holy Spirit is always with you no matter where you are. Don’t assume that fancier means a stronger so-called faith.
I empathize with pastors because I know some are a little bit stuck. They’ve realized the growth turned their church into something it’s not supposed to be. I had a little bit of experience with this when our gym exploded and tripled in numbers. (*If you want to, read about Francis Chan and why he left pastoring his huge church of thousands).
Here’s why I’m telling you all this, drop the consumer mindset. Look for a Bible-teaching church that challenges you, not just appeals to you, and somehow doesn’t allow you to just sit in the back row.
Gyms and churches have many parallels. Looks matter, but honestly, they don’t. Size, shape, sound, equipment are not necessarily a measure of fruit. So don’t get caught up in just the landscaping!
Which leads me to why I’ll never do this next one anymore…
#8. Expect Christians to act better than non-Christians.
Oh boy, lemme just tell ya to drop your expectations! In this life with Christians you will have trouble! I know, I thought the same thing—Christians should act differently because we know better, right?!
Oh, let’s never forget, we are ALL sinners.
I’m not shocked anymore about how Christians sweat the small stuff, get offended easily, struggle to forgive, get caught up in money, get jealous, gossip, leave over silly things, backstab, and the list goes on.
We have worked in churches. We run a church. We have a big network of Christians in our gym, school, & life. It took me a long time to finally accept that people are people, and people are messy! Welcome to truly understanding the Love of Christ that while we were yet sinners, He died for us! This doesn’t mean that people aren’t saved, nor does it mean that our faith is weak. This proves the reality of the pervasiveness of sin!
Dear Christians and non-Christians alike, do not let this be a reason you don’t go to church.
One of the top reasons people say they don’t is because of hypocrites. Well guess what, we are all hypocrites.
That leads me to while I’ll never do this next one again either…
#9. Say that I don’t need church.
Oh, there was a time when I said I can do this on my own. Yup, I actually would tell Amber, “you go to church. I don’t need it.” This was far into my walk y’all, not at the beginning! Shame on me. I should have known better.
I used to say that people pushed me away. In my luke-warmness, thankfully God called me out. You need a church body. The body encourages, holds accountable, refines, and grows. Jesus would have never established the church and called it His bride if he didn’t care about it and establish our need for it. (Ephesians 5, Revelation 19)
Look, people may disappoint. The Lord never does. When He truly brings you to church, people can’t push you out.
#10. Care too much about what others care about.
I have found the balance to relationships: we must care…but don’t care too much.
I don’t have time to spend wasting time on worrying about other people. Life is hard enough trying to figure out our own stuff. I care enough to check in, see if there’s anything I can do, but without permission and desire from someone else to want help, there’s nothing we can do.
We care enough to want people to make better choices in health and fitness, but we can’t care too much that we lose minutes over it.
We care enough about the state of one’s soul, but we can’t care too much to lose sleep over it.
We care enough to try within our sphere and scope of practice, but we can’t care too much to lose our peace about it.
I don’t know why some people want to walk in their old life, indulging in worldly things, especially if they know the Good News of the Gospel.
I care, but I can’t care too much. You know why? I’m human. I’m nowhere near perfect. Only Jesus is. I need to focus more on abiding in Him more than trying to force other people to.
Wowza. Three more. Hang with me now.
#11. I’ve stopped playing the spiritual comparison game.
Let’s just read 1 Corinthians 12:21-27.
21 The eye can’t say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” The head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 In fact, it is just the opposite. The parts of the body that seem to be weaker are the ones we can’t do without. 23 The parts that we think are less important we treat with special honor. The private parts aren’t shown. But they are treated with special care. 24 The parts that can be shown don’t need special care. But God has put together all the parts of the body. And he has given more honor to the parts that didn’t have any. 25 In that way, the parts of the body will not take sides. All of them will take care of one another. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it. If one part is honored, every part shares in its joy.
27 You are the body of Christ. Each one of you is a part of it.
All parts of the body matter. Stop the comparison game. Your gift is different than someone else’s. Just because someone can pray better or sing louder doesn’t mean they have a stronger faith or HS than you. I like what this one guy says: “Believers should remember the Spirit is not given in part, He does not come in portions or doses, and He is not taken away.”
Evidence of strong faith is seen by fruit of repentance and fruit of the Spirit 24/7, 365, not just for 90 min at a church service, with a crowd, in a specific environment, without any context.
-You might be super quiet and humble…
-You might not pray out loud or talk out loud or make noise out loud…
-You might be in a small group, in a small setting, in the dinkiest of worship environments…
-Yet you can still be one of the strongest evangelists, disciples, doing amazing things for the kingdom, and experiencing the fruit of the spirit like no other.
Remember, look for the fruit not just the landscaping.
And while it’s important to seek fruit and gifts…
We must first seek the Giver of the fruit and gifts.
Jesus told his disciples that it was better for Him to go to heaven because then he would send to us his helper, his Holy Spirit.
This leads me to number 12!
#12. I’ll never Underestimate the power of the Holy Spirit again.
Nowadays, I’ll never not emphasize or not direct people to the role the Holy Spirit plays in their lives.
I’m not going to say that at the beginning of my Christian walk, people didn’t teach about the Holy Spirit, but for whatever reason, I don’t remember people teaching about Him. So either I didn’t pay attention, or I was sleeping in service that day.
People talked about Jesus, they talked about God, and even the apostle Paul, but why not the third person of the trinity! He is the spirit that dwells within us, that seals us until the day of our redemption, the one spirit that unites the entire body of Christ. (Ephesians 4:4)
Now I get it, there are extremes, and this probably makes churches nervous to talk about him. I tell people often that my job as a leader is to keep people level-headed and grounded. I heard a guy say one time, “All Word and no Spirit, we dry up; all Spirit and no Word, we blow up; both Word and Spirit, we grow up. There’s a balance.
The Holy Spirit is real. We receive him as a gift when we’re baptized into the body for the forgiveness of our sins in the name of Jesus Christ…
He helps us resist sin, see truth, and fulfill the great commission.
In Matthew we see Jesus baptized, the Holy Spirit fell upon him and he was filled.
He was then led into the wilderness by the Spirit, and Jesus shows us how to resist temptation physically as a human.
He then leaves the wilderness, and receives the power of the Holy Spirit to begin his ministry.
What a perfect example for our walk. (Listen to my message about this here: https://theoamberpodcast.simplecast.com/episodes/what-does-jesus-teach-us-about-health)
The Bible tells us we can quench and grieve and suppress him when we sin. He’s there to lead us, but we have to submit to him by crucifying the flesh. Now, just read Romans 7 and you’ll understand why this will be a battle that we’re enlisted in for the rest of our lives.
Out of all the things, I’ve said so far, if you haven’t fallen asleep yet, and you’re still listening, I have a feeling this one right here is really going to hit somebody today.
The last one that came to me during my morning workout for things I’ll never do anymore as a Christian…
#13. Invest in discipleship with others over my family.
First hear me out, discipleship with others is part of our calling as followers and necessary. At the same time though, our first ministry is our family. And if our family is not on board with us, then I think if you read through Timothy and Titus you’ll see why we are to move forward and make church ministry first. (Even the disciples dusted off their sandals and moved on when people did not want to receive the gospel).
This is just about priorities. This is encouragement to not get stressed out about being in all types of programs. If you’re in ministry, this is about self regulating your emotions in response to other people’s demands and desires.
I used to be in 3 to 4 different men’s groups at one time and didn’t think I was doing enough.
Now, I’m only in one group and I have total peace about it.
I have to somehow be leading my family first. Can I tell you something? Often after getting to know people you’ll see their house is in shambles. Perhaps they’re involved in so many things at church, and/or want so many pockets of connections, and/or they’re trying to grow so many things for the kingdom, but they’ve yet to take a household inventory.
No, we don’t need to be creating programs with our own families and I will vouch that the most important thing is relationships. The most important thing is they see what a peaceful environment living for Christ looks like. The most important thing is they feel the love of Christ, more than you sitting down and ritually walking through scripture with them. But the Bible tells us we should put the Commandments on our door post and on our heads all day, every day (Deuteronomy 6:6-9). Therefore, we should somehow be talking about Christ and his commandments and applying them to our even seemingly mundane tasks of every day life.
I don’t have it all right yet. I can tell you that my wife is better than me. She has pushed me to be super intentional. We are paying a lot more attention to knowing how to do this better as a family.
And here are five things I can offer you:
◦ Use scripture when you’re shepherding your children’s hearts. Whether they want to hear it or not, it penetrates.
◦ Pray for them like crazy. Maybe quit trying to fix things more and instead, humbly pray more. The Lord has them. And often when we pray, it’s our own hearts that change. Our kids and spouses sense that.
◦ Continue to have conversations about why a Godly life is much better than a worldly life.
◦ Force them to church.
◦ Be careful with all the advice that other people give about how this is supposed to look in your own household. Each house is different and you’ll need to find what works for yours.
I used to think that churches had to have a lot of things for discipleship. I think as our own church is discovering, we’re trying to do a better job of getting this right with the people closest to us first, and let everyone else be secondary.
It doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t do both at the same time. It just means you keep your heart and focus in the right place about it.
Praise the Lord! My eyes are popping out of my head. I just typed this whole thing on my phone (please excuse any edits). If you just read this entire thing, that’s ahmazing!
If you got anything from this please share. Chances are others will too.
#6. Assume that all Christians are Christians.