By contributor Brie Gowan, with permission.
Do you see what the lockdown has done for the church? No, it’s not that it’s given it that push to get on social media. And it’s not about whether to meet, the importance of staying connected (although that’s important), or even the gumption to broadcast services live.
What I’m talking about actually has nothing to do with whether a building has its doors opened or closed, or whether the government is skating too close to infringing on constitutional rights.
It has nothing to do with religious organizations and everything to do with your relationship. Because, I’ll tell you a secret. You are the church. Allow me to explain.
Recently a coworker asked me how I had gotten to such a strong level of faith in my life. The person was pleasantly surprised when I said it wasn’t a switch that was flipped in my life, or even an overnight ordeal, but rather years of seeking and growth. I relayed the story of how my growing closer to Jesus had began.
Somewhere around 2010 I came across a wonderful opportunity at work. It was a weekend position that allowed me to work only 24 hours a week, while still getting paid for 40 hours. Pretty sweet, right? I had a baby, and another on my wish list, so working part time for full time pay was a God-send! The only problem? I would agree to work every weekend. While Saturday wasn’t a problem for me, Sunday was a lot harder. For one, I loved my church. My father-in-law was our pastor, and I worried how they would feel about the position.
It turns out, my father-in-law didn’t mind. He knew something I was about to learn. He knew something COVID-19 is trying to teach us all. He understood that a personal relationship with Jesus wasn’t found on Sunday morning alone, and he felt pretty confident in the Lord’s ability to show me just that.
My biggest concern after I took that weekender job? I worried my relationship with the Lord would suffer missing Sunday mornings, so I determined that it would not! How did I do that? I made the choice to seek the Lord more closely each and every day. I couldn’t go to church on Sunday, and my small congregation didn’t meet any other time. So I went to church Monday morning on my couch. I went to church Tuesday morning while I sipped my coffee. I went to church Wednesday morning while I fed my baby. I think you’re getting the point.
Ten years ago my life began to turn around for the better because I made a decision.
I decided that since I couldn’t go to church, I would bring church to me!
I started to set aside time daily to read my Bible, seek the Lord, pray, and listen to His voice. And we as a country are being given this same chance now! We are being told to stay home, and we have the opportunity to use that time wisely. We’re not just in a time in our lives where we can’t go to church. We’re in a time of our lives where we can bring church home. We can bring it into our hearts!
Even after I switched jobs and could attend worship with others on Sunday mornings, it was too late! My life had already changed, thank the Lord. I had begun to manifest the fruits of the Spirit. It wasn’t just my schedule that had changed. My personality had changed. I found that a life where I saturated myself with scripture, was a life where I could be more joyful and triumphant. I learned how to deal with the world’s problems according to the Bible’s answers. In those pages I discovered how much my Savior loved me, and sadly and honestly, I had spent ten years in church on Sundays as a child/teenager, never learning that truth. Salvation, discipline, and true life change aren’t always found in a building. And a deep relationship that changes you from the inside out, rarely is. Life change is found in time with Him.
This pandemic has given us all the rare opportunity to seek Him more.
It has forced upon us the need to be fed at home, and I’m not talking about sustenance you get from the grocery store. I’m talking about the kind of spiritual food that will leave you never hungry again. It’s the kind of bread that gives you life, abundant life at that, and it fills you so full that fear can’t fit there. It fills you so overflowing that the uncertain circumstances surrounding you don’t stand a chance. It’s the Manna that God sends down from Heaven, and when you taste and eat you understand that He always provides just enough.
Do you know what the church (meaning the physical building AND all of us as the bride of Christ) needs?
We need to learn how to be mature.
God doesn’t intend for us to stay babies, being fed our spiritual bottle on Sunday mornings, thinking that will keep us full all week!
He calls us to eat meat.
He wants us to be self-feeding, steak-chewing, garden-growing, fruit-baring farmers.
Y’all, it’s like He wants us to be homesteading harvesters who water where we’re planted.
Of course He wants believers gathering together and supporting one another! Don’t get me wrong; this isn’t a church-bashing post. No, what this is is a reminder that we are the church, and we are called to grow the church. The fact is, it’s hard to grow a crop when all you do is eat the fruit. If you’re wanting to harvest, like God calls us all to do, then you have to start planting seeds, and folks forget you begin by planting the seeds in you.
So, I would encourage you to take advantage of this time. See it for what it is. It’s an opportunity, much like the one I experienced ten years ago, to seek the Lord so you don’t lose Him. Y’all, He’s not hard to find. We’re just usually so distracted by all the noise that we miss Him, but perhaps now is a National Call to Quiet. Perhaps Christ is calling us all away from the noise and into His arms. We have been given the chance to bring church into our hearts, the place where God has wanted it built all along. Don’t miss the positive change we can bring from such a negative time in our history.
Don’t miss out on the greatest opportunity of all.
To build His Church in you.
Brie Gowen is a thirty-something wife and mother. When she’s not loving on her hubby, bouncing a happy toddler on her hip, chasing her preschooler, or teaching her six year old at the kitchen table, she enjoys cooking, reading, and writing down her thoughts to share with others. Brie’s also an adoptee, former outcast, missionary, veteran, nurse and child of the One True King.