Last night at midnight, hundreds of thousands of people all around our country area stood in lines at their local theaters to watch the latest Harry Potter movie, some of you included! The question is, "why?"
It’s really an easy answer. Regardless of whether you are a fan of Harry Potter or not, it’s because the author, J.K. Rowling, has created a story that captures the heart and imagination of people. There’s adventure, mystery and an assorted group of colorful characters that you grow to know and love. But above all, there is the quintessential battle being waged between good and evil.
The reason that books, films and theater are so compelling is because we are hard-wired for “story”. God made us this way and one of the worst things you can do is to forget the power of the story and live your life as just a cog in the human machine. In fact, I find that one of the root problems of many “church people” is that we fail to grow spiritually because we live disconnected from the “Story”. Let me give you some examples.
Story is about relationships – if you want to grow spiritually you must enter into authentic community with other Christ Followers. It’s why you need to be a part of a small group or ministry team and why our church places such a high value on you getting connected with others in healthy church relationships beyond the Sunday experience.
Story is about context – if you want to grow spiritually you have stop treating the Bible as a textbook but rather a guidebook. It’s not about getting more facts and Bible data, it’s about allowing it to change the way you relate to yourself, God and the people you encounter everyday in the real world. That’s why all our teaching at JC is application based; every message, every point of every message around here is about giving you practical next steps to apply Biblical truth to your everyday life. What you do with that however, is up to you – don’t let spiritual laziness keep you from growing.
Story is about dialogue – if you want to grow spiritually you have to develop prayer as a conversation between you and God. Prayer is more than telling Him what you want - it’s to be a lifestyle where you learn to listen to Him as you go about life. That’s why we teach that prayer is more than something before meals or a few minutes at the beginning or end of your day. It’s learning to speak, hear and respond to God at work, on the road, when you are with others or wherever you are.
Story is about adventure and mission – if you want to grow spiritually you have to use what God has given you to grow God’s Kingdom. You were created to serve others and help them find their way back to God. That’s why we say if you aren’t using your talents, time, money and resources to serve others on behalf of Jesus you are missing God’s blessing on your life. One of the biggest reasons we stagnate spiritually is because we make this story all about us instead of God’s mission and adventure.
Story is about character development – if you want to grow spiritually you have to embrace hardship, challenges and suffering as opportunities for God to transform you. That’s why we deal with hard topics at Journey’s Crossing. Life isn’t about avoiding pain or bubble wrapping our life from risk – it’s in learning to be joyful in spite of our circumstances because we are developing a deepening confidence in God and His love. We realize that sin has broken and marred this world and that this temporary life is about preparing us and others for eternity.
Story is about process – if you want to grow spiritually you realize that it doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a journey of ups and downs, highs and lows where we often take three steps forward and then two steps back. That’s why you grow best where there’s authenticity, relevance and grace. Here at JC we work really hard to create a place free from religious pretense, fake standards of spirituality and judgmental attitudes. Until we are honest about our true spiritual condition we'll struggle allowing God's spirit to transform us into who He wants us to be.
So what’s your story? Are you moving forward in the 3-C’s of spiritual health at Journey’s Crossing? CELEBRATE: What does this chapter of your life say about your relationship with God? Are you celebrating each day in a partnership with Him? CONNECT: Who has God put around you to help and to help you? Are you connecting with others in real community? CONTRIBUTE: How are using what God has given you to accomplish His agenda? Are you contributing daily for God’s Kingdom?