Wednesday Wisdom 😊
Inspiration this week comes from the book of Revelation 2: 2-5 (Message to the Church in Ephesus)
“I know all the things you do. I have seen your hard work and your patient endurance. I know you don’t tolerate evil people. You have examined the claims of those who say they are apostles but are not. You have discovered they are liars. You have patiently suffered for me without quitting. But I have this claim against you. You don’t love me or each other as you did at first! Look how far you have fallen! Turn back to me and do the works you did at first. If you don’t repent, I will come and remove your lampstand from its place among the churches.”
Throughout my almost 47 years, I have been in many different churches. I was raised in the Episcopal faith, and educated in the Catholic school system. Today, I am a member of the Parkview Baptist church family. In addition to being a part of several church families, I also went for a couple of extended periods of time where I did not have a church family to call home. During my teenage years, God put a yearning on my heart to move deeper in faith with Him but I really struggled to find a church where I felt the presence of the Holy Spirit. As a result, I consistently floundered or “wandered” in my faith instead of moving forward. It took Jesus moving in the heart of my oldest daughter for me to shift back into an intentional pursuit of heartfelt faith.
As I started my 4th decade on this earth, God chose to move through Ashley Grace to answer my long-term prayer for deeper fellowship. She led our family to a new church and it changed my life. I felt the promise of deeper fellowship when I walked in that first week, and it continues to deeply affect my faith journey years later. If I were to choose my own words to describe it, I would say that it felt like coming home – walking into the place where God meant for me to be. A place where the lampstand of the Holy Spirit shone brightly for me and other believers who gathered together in love, faith and encouragement. I learned last weekend that the term for this is a Greek word, Koinonia. Koinonia describes the deep fellowship that exists when a group of believers are devoted to God, His Word, and a genuine caring for each other.
I believe that when God designs each of us as His children, we are uniquely “hardwired” to find the light of the Holy Spirit at particular places that He creates for us. We are called to love everyone and to share the Good News with all. But, God brings distinct people alongside us in our faith journey to create teams (churches) of Christians who seek strength in faith together. He then blesses these churches with the lampstand of the Holy Spirit as they obey His commandments given to us by Jesus in Matthew 22: 37-39.
“You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: Love your neighbor as yourself.”
Each day, God uses the Parkview family to shape me, to teach me, to encourage me, to challenge me, to hold me accountable, and to love me in ways that I had not ever experienced before. The lampstand of the Holy Spirit shines brightly for me there, and I am able to experience God at an intimate and personaI level as I come together with the other people that He has intentionally brought there. Individually, we are all God’s children. Together, we are inspired to lead with love as we enthusiastically work for the Lord. At times during my life, I thought that I could deepen in loving fellowship with Jesus without being a part of a church family. I was wrong. What God has shown me over the last six and a half years is that my faith exists at an entirely different level when I pursue Christ in fellowship with others under the light of the Holy Spirit.
Koinonia is a gift from the Lord that is waiting for each of us as we bravely open our hearts to embrace the team that God asks us to be a part of. Being a Christian is hard, and finding refuge and strength in the midst of the chaos of this world is a challenge. Having a church family that loves the Lord deeply and cares for one another as God commands in the above verses from Revelation and Matthew helps to provide this. If you haven’t found it yet, keep praying – keep looking – keep seeking – and open your heart to the fact that God’s chosen “church” for you may be different than the churches that you are used to. We are all God’s unique masterpieces, and he creates special places for each of us. You will know when you find the place meant for you! It’s worth reaching outside of your comfort zone as you might just find your sweet spot, and it will feel like coming home 😊