One of the things that our church hosted this past weekend was something called a Women’s Encounter. We have participated in a few other Women’s Encounters this past year that another church had hosted but we felt the Lord impressing that we needed to branch off and host some Encounters ourselves, in order to reach more people for Christ!
It is kind of hard to explain what exactly an Encounter is…because it is so individual for each person that attends. There were over 120 women of all ages, from all walks of life, from many different church backgrounds – or no church background at all. Because of the nature of how an Encounter is put together, there is no one at all that can attend and not be spoken to or challenged. It is put on, organized and taught by ordinary people that have had an encounter of their own with Jesus Christ and want others to experience the same thing. It is empowering The Church to be The Church. Telling people about Christ, sharing their testimonies, discipling and starting the whole process over again with a new set of believers! So exciting!
I say all of that to get to my point of what I am wanting to share this morning. It is something that I shared with the ladies at the Encounter this past weekend. I was so encouraged during a time of sharing when a lady said that what she appreciated about the weekend was that it was all about Jesus. Jesus Christ and Him crucified. Getting back to the basics…what the Gospel…The Church is supposed to be about.
What I love about having the chance to be a part of the Encounters is the unity that happens within the body of Christ – HIS Church! We have been divided and separated by denominations for way too long. What does the Word tell us? In Luke 11:17 Jesus tells us, “Any kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and a house divided against itself will fall.” A body that is divided cannot stand either. We, as the Body of Christ…the Kingdom of God…need to stand in unity.
Over the past few years God has been molding and changing me, opening my heart and eyes to just this thing. Having grown up in a certain denomination my whole life and then ministering predominantly in churches of that same fellowship for many years left me with a somewhat narrowed perspective, and in reality – bias. As I am sure is true with many of you that are reading this now.
We serve an unchanging God. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. This unchanging God, our Savior Jesus Christ, needs to be the center. We find our identities in Him…not in some religious organization or denomination. We are brothers and sisters in Christ, whether the church we call home is Lutheran, Baptist, Assembly of God, Catholic, Methodist, Christian, Apostolic, Four square, Church of God, Bible, etc. You get the point. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with the uniqunesses of our various backgrounds as we are all called to walk in the unity of the Spirit, commonly fellowshipping in the suffering of Christ for all our sakes. What is wrong is that when our uniquenesses keep us from acknowledging that we are a part of a bigger kingdom than the name that the church we attend is identified with. When we are so focused on our little kingdom, it makes it nearly impossible for us to celebrate, partner or bear with our brothers and sisters in Christ -all laboring in the same field, under the same call and mission.
I say all of this to bring it back to the basics…back to The Word. Let’s get past our pre-conceived notions, past our biases, past our misunderstandings, past our ignorances, even past our hurts that have happened in the church, or because of leaders in the church. I speak as one that is familiar with this. We are all human. We all fall short of God’s glory. We need to learn to forgive and walk in unity.
So, I will leave you (and us all as The Church) with this challenge: Let us let God be GOD in the fullness of who He is…whatever that looks like…in our lives. None of us have all of the answers, only He does. I challenge you, as you strive to grow into more of the person that He desires you to be to not put Him in a neat little box. Let him deal with you, convict you, challenge you, and grow you into the person He desires, through The Word of God. Whatever that looks or feels like. And let’s work together to fulfill the Great Commission…”Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.”
John 15:5, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
Matthew 9:37-38, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”