Have you ever felt like you did everything you could? Like you gave everything you had and went beyond anything you ever thought possible? Did you ever feel as if all of that... all of yourself was not enough?
Sometimes its not. Sometimes we find ourselves in situations where no matter how hard we try we simply are not enough. I think this is a common feeling for many people today. Unfortunately society pushes the notion that we can find the solution to any problem within ourselves. It teaches us that our main goal in life is to be completely independent and tackle life by our own boot straps.
But this thinking is completely contrary to what the Bible teaches. From the very beginning, in the book of Genesis, God states that it is not good for man to be alone. And that truth has never been more true than today. We live in an age where communication is easier than it has ever been in the past. All we have to do is send a quick email, text, or message on Facebook and you can let a friend know you're thinking about them. But how many of us take the time to even do that?
Many people feel isolated and even forgotten. And the real shame of it all is that Christians are buying into the lie of living life for yourself and needing no one else. Christians are suppose to show the world that life is better when people need each other. We are told time and time again to uplift each other, pray for each other, and encourage each other in our walk with Christ. This is the role of the church.
I was thinking about the struggles of Christians through-out time and the stories in the Bible that dealt with the topics of friendship, loneliness, and never giving up. And the story of Moses came to mind.
In Exodus chapter 17 I read about a time of war. It was not a war that Moses sought but one that he could not avoid. As long as he held his arms up to the sky Joshua and his army would gain the upper hand. But when Moses became tired and lowered his arms the enemy began to take over. Seeing the dilemma two friends, one of whom was his brother Aaron, helped him find a seat and held his arms up until the battle was won.
Two images come to mind: the cross and the church. I was deeply moved by the actions of Aaron and Hur. It was necessary to help Moses. But they went beyond what was necessary and stayed with Moses until the end. They supported him, literally and figuratively, choosing to fight beside him.
Their willingness to suffer as Moses did was a love of sacrifice. They probably wanted to be down on the battle field along with family and friends but they chose to stay and help in another, probably less exciting way. The cross teaches us about the ultimate sacrifice. Their actions were a reflection of dying to self.
And just as the cross is the ultimate example of dying to self so too is the church, the body of Christ. Many people have the wrong idea of what a church is suppose to be. It is not a building. It is not religious ceremony. It is not a "feel good" worship service. Church is suppose to be what we do every day of our lives: people loving, forgiving, and helping each other through the highs and lows of every day life. And that's not easy. Sometimes it can seem tedious and many times uneventful. Sometimes it can be scary when we have to confront someone who isn't living right. Sometimes it can be discouraging when change doesn't happen as we think it should.
But the rewards for being involved with a group of believers, a church, is what we as Christians are called to do! There will never be a perfect church so stop looking for it. And no, you may not always feel comfortable and welcomed. But God didn't tell us to go to church so we can feel warm and fuzzy. If you are in a church that needs change then ask God to show you how you can be a part of that change. Search for ways to use your spiritual gifts to serve Him. Stand beside the awkward and lonely individuals. Be a friend to those who don't have any!
And you know what? When we start dying to self and start living for Christ a wonderful thing begins to happen. Lives are transformed. People start passing on the love they found in you and suddenly the community begins to change.
Why is the church filled with so much strife? Because it is filled with sinners. We are all sinners! Not one of us can claim to be perfect. So of course there will be strife. But God is greater than our weaknesses and He has defeated sin! So don't be discouraged, intimidated, or lose hope! In the name of Jesus Christ pick up your cross and go serve Him.
Remember that Christ died for every living soul... even those who seem unlovable. That is a tough pill to swallow but it is absolute truth. Remember that it is through Christians that Christ has chosen to show the world His love. So get involved with a church. No more excuses. Any Christian who stands alone is easy prey. Like it or not we all need the support of each other.
"Moses' arms soon became so tired he could no longer hold them up. So Aaron and Hur found a stone for him to sit on. Then they stood on each side of Moses, holding up his hands. So his hands held steady until sunset." Exodus 17:12