Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” – Matthew 16:13-16
One of the drawbacks about being a widely accepted “major religion” is that so much of what is central to faith is simply part of a bundled package that is often generally accepted without much thought… part of the cultural milieu… integral to people’s identity along with a thousand other assumptions about life in the United States.
Too often, Christianity is less a personal decision and more of a pattern of routine life. Consequently, when that routine is interrupted or disturbed and new patterns fall into the vacuum, all that is lost is a vague sense of familiarity that can readily be replaced with new habits. How can you miss a God you never really knew, or a faith community you never truly engaged?
- How can you miss a God you never really knew?
- How can you miss a faith community you never truly engaged?
Worship is our bright stand as a faith community:
This is one reason why I am so committed to the small group model of discipleship. People come to Sunday morning worship and they enjoy the atmosphere of celebration and inspiration. Worship is our bright stand as a faith community. There are always a number of visitors, and people are drawn to a place that demonstrates such life and enthusiasm for God.
But it is in the context of small groups – featuring Bible study, prayer, sharing from the deeper parts of our souls, and mission – that we actually begin to know God, welcome the Holy Spirit into the ebb and flow of our daily lives, and understand faith as an ongoing walk with Jesus.
I’m talking about Sunday school classes; men’s groups; coffee and prayer one-on-one; women’s Bible studies; serving as an elder; the work of the Deacons; Stephen Ministry; the choir and the praise team; so many youth and children’s activities; Wednesday night dinner together; hunger initiatives (community garden, serving the homeless, Back-pack Buddies, Rise Against Hunger etc, etc); tutoring ministry; Hospitality initiatives; Habitat construction crews; Mission to Military; Walk Through Bethlehem… plus all the countless other mission ventures led by the elders and the ministry teams they chair….
It’s all about following Jesus!
You can’t replace any of that with anything outside of the mission and ministry of the local church! There is nothing the world offers with the power to inspire, engage, animate, heal, and satisfy as being a committed part of the family of God.
If your experience of church is no more transformational than staying home or heading out to a recreational activity, then I’m telling you right now you need to get out of the shallows and jump in the deep end where learning and serving and praying and sharing and giving will immerse you in Jesus and saturate you with light and life.
- So Jesus asks this question, “Who do you say that I am?”
- And our answer cannot come anywhere short of Peter’s, “You are my Messiah, my Savior, the Son of the Living God.”