Sometimes I need to be alone. Hunting does that for me. It may be because I need time to work through a complex issue. Or perhaps I need to receive a message through God’s word in a way that is undistracted. Other times, I find myself in great need of time with other people. It could be on a hunting trip with friends, or a simple lunch break with a mentor or colleague. Interestingly, the principle is the same. Rather than give of myself, I need to be the one receiving a word of edification, accountability, or simply a good laugh to ease the stress of life.
“15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.” Ephesians 4:15-16
I love Paul’s use of the body illustration here because it speaks so well to our need to receive from meaningful fellowship in the church. The systems of our bodies are so dependant on one another, when you remove one system, others fail. On the other hand, God has also designed the body to compensate for itself in the event of a failure.
It’s important to understand that if we are truly working to edify the church, and those around us are doing the same, then we will be edified. Often, however, we find ourselves in a position where our primary activity in the church is only contributing to fellowship and not receiving from it.
Are You Too Busy For Receiving?
One of scripture’s best illustrations of this comes from Luke 10:38. Martha couldn’t see through her distraction of serving. She simply wouldn’t sit down, listen, and fellowship with the Son of God. She was trying to give when she should have been receiving. Unfortunately, too many people serving in the church look down on Martha when they should be convicted by their own hyper-busyness.
We need God’s grace in this situation. We need grace to continue to give of ourselves, but we need grace to be still and receive the food of his word. We need to speak the truth in love for the sake of maturity, but we also need to hear the truth so we can continue to grow and mature.
Romans 10:17 reminds us that “faith comes from hearing and hearing from the word of Christ.” Our faith has come to us by the grace of God and he has used his word to be the mechanism that brings the truth of the gospel. The power of the gospel is not limited to our conversion. It is the source of our daily faith and strength and maturity.
These things cannot be attained by way of isolation from the body. Just as God’s people need you, you need God’s people. You need their love, you need their prayer, you need their accountability.
Demystify Your Spiritual Growth
We ought to dismiss the idea that the greatest source of spiritual growth comes from some randomized power source of the universe. God has set up his design of sanctification to begin with the Holy spirit’s regenerating power. The Holy scripture is the governing and teaching means by which we ingest and absorb the things he has intended. He employs the church as the leading way his word is brought to life.
Participating in, contributing to, and receiving from meaningful unified Christian fellowship is the earthly illustration of a justified, unified, and glorious relationship that we now have with the father. Jesus did not willfully shed his blood to provide you with a relationship to the father that was the opposite of what Paul is describing in Ephesians 4.
In what ways do you need to slow down and receive from meaningful fellowship? Leave a comment!