My hope by writing this blog is to encourage and inspire the reader to Think Again. Hear me out for a moment and feel free in the spirit of holiness to comment your thoughts and responses to this post.
Being an author of 1 book has opened many opportunities for me that I am very grateful for. I thank God for His grace and favor on my life. He is the one who has gone before me and has stayed with me even when I have failed to be obedient or made mistakes along the way. His love is eternal, and it never changes towards us. In fact, He continues to show up with even more grace and mercy each time we stumble and fall.
Have you ever felt like you’ve said too much? That was my feeling the day after an event I was invited to share at. I was invited to an interview by a local artist and media specialist in our community. She launched her book on that day and graciously shared her spotlight with other local authors. It was an amazing time. I cannot remember ever being in an environment such as this one. My usual invitations to speak or share for the past 6 years or so have included Christian conferences, and women’s panel events along with regular preaching opportunities in my own church. Interestingly enough, and funny for me to say, I was even on a Christian TV Network show a couple of times. I confess that this is the first time I sit and intentionally think about and calculate this and express it on paper or should I say, digital paper. Nonetheless, while it might be impressive to you, it feels strange and humbling to me, but back to the topic of this blog post.
This event I was interviewed in was ideal in my eyes for a woman or man of God. A good Ministry opportunity for the believers should include sharing their faith, serving and being impactful or influential with the love of Christ that is in you. It should be that simple.
Nothing more. Nothing less. You should feel free to share with love and in love.
This particular event was exactly that. It was a time of ministry, but it didn’t feel like it was ministry as I have known it all these years.
It was better.
It was so good that I fell into the trap of comparisons. My mind caused me to go into analytics overload regarding Church.
In this blog I want to highlight that we can have another thought regarding church. I have heard so many people, who have left the church building, speak in a negative way about the church. I fell into that trap, but I had a different thought.
At first, I compared the overall vibe and feeling of freedom I felt at this event to the overall vibe and feelings I feel in church and to my shame, I spoke it aloud to others. It was different and that was ok to notice and mention. But on Sunday the day after the event I allowed my brain to do the talking and forgot to invite the Holy Spirit to examine my thoughts before I began to speak. This kind of thing happens to all of us from time to time, especially, when you have been impacted in some way.
Once I was in a still place at home after church on Sunday, Holy Spirit began to speak to me about the comparisons and comments I had made regarding the church and my experience. Even as I write this, I am undone.
Oh, how He loves the bride. Oh, how He loves the church, the ecclesia. She is indeed his beloved.
With all her flawed members and mistakes and wrongful thinking. Jesus paid a price for His people. Those who believe in Him are His family. We are His body and bride. And He is zealous and jealous for her.
Holy Spirit led me to repent, and it was tragically beautiful. He said to me, “while you had a liberating experience on the platform that I provided for you to be salt and light, an ambassador of peace, and a representative of the kingdom of God, the freedom that you felt should not be compared to the freedoms in the fellowship of the believers.”
You see, I told a few people that I felt very free and safe speaking at the event verses how fearful and uncomfortable I have felt sharing at church events. I felt freer to be vulnerable in this event then at churches. But the Lord reminded me that it is unfair to compare apples to oranges. While they are both edible and round, they are not the same fruit.
What I discovered on Saturday was my voice and purpose for that day. Each day I must submit to what God wants me to do that day. And I cannot compare today to yesterday. In fact, the Bible tells us to forget the past and not worry about tomorrow, but rather live today, like you only have today, and live life like you yet have 1000 years to live.
The Church. Who can compare?
Church is the fellowship of the believers where we come together to be encouraged, to learn and grow in Christ Jesus. We are the Church or make up the Body of the Bride where Jesus Christ is the Head. We come to celebrate Him and testify of what He has done. We also come to hear from the Lord Himself through the reading of the word and prophetic utterances. It is where we first start to hear about our purpose. It may even become your purpose. You may be invited to be the teacher, the preacher, the pastor, the worship leader, the apostle, the evangelist, the missionary, the prophet. In the same way, you may hear and come to know your purpose in the Marketplace.
The Marketplace is another place of ministry that is being explored these days more and more, but it is not the church. The event I was in is considered the marketplace. Not many church folks go to these events. In fact, it is not churchy in any way. The marketplace revolves around the betterment and elevation of women and men, society, and economics. While church revolves around the elevation of the name of Jesus and the preparation for advancement of His Kingdom.
When we are together as a church we pray and worship and sing hymns and give thanks. Our goal is to exalt the name of Jesus and remind each other about the goodness of the Lord. We decrease that He may increase; we come to give more then receive.
In marketplace ministry we minister to the needs of people first and hope to have an opportunity to minister to the people’s spiritual needs. Both the church and the marketplace are necessary but not to be compared one to another. Comparing the two is like comparing Nursing School to an actual functioning hospital; Church being the school and the hospital being the marketplace.
I made the mistake of comparing the freedom and strength I felt while being salt & light, to the brokenness I feel at my place of preparation which is the fellowship of the believers.
Church can feel restricting sometimes because we are in a place of learning. We are in a place where the focus is God and not man. When we are with the church and we are given the opportunity to speak, we might feel like we are speaking to the proverbial choir, or a group of judges. When we are in the marketplace, or your place of assignment, we feel the acceptance and hunger for insight the people might have. We see the longing in their eyes for something new and something fresh, we don’t feel judged because no one knows us intimately. They receive what you have to say about your faith because they choose to be inclusive, accepting, open to all things and understand that you are functioning in your purpose.
In church people can sometimes have their beliefs and be stubborn or religious about it, leaving little to no room for a fresh Biblical perspective and insight of God’s word and ways. Fellow believers are mostly fellow students who have seen you grow and fall and get up again. In church the devil works hard at throwing darts at the speaker with the hopes that the speaker will stop speaking, fear speaking and sharing and decide never to do it again. The evil one wants you to believe that the church is to blame for your fears. He wants us to believe that we hurt each other on purpose so it’s better that we stay away from the body of Christ and just go to where we are accepted, which the marketplace can feel more accepting and liberating. The marketplace is not the church, though.
The church goes to the Marketplace, but the church needs to stay in community with themselves while adding more to her numbers.
Anytime you are doing what you are supposed to be doing, you will feel liberated, in your zone, joyful and hopeful. The delight can be intoxicating to the soul. The temptation is, to seek that feeling repeatedly. The temptation is to recreate those moments. It is not our place to recreate a moment that God created. It is why we need to stay humble and always seeking the will of the Father. My purpose is to do the will of the Father. It was the Father’s will for me to be at the event where I was on that day. Today, I feel the delight of the Lord again. But I am not in the same arena I was in a few days ago, I’m here, writing this blog for you.
Today is what matters most.
While I am thankful for the awesome opportunities that God gives me I am learning that none should be compared to the other. There is only one who can compare, and it is Jesus. As we move and live and have our being in Him, He will compare us to Himself and His fruit of the Holy Spirit, answering the question, “Are you being transformed from glory to glory?” As we behold Him, look unto Him we are being transformed. And as we transform, He invites us to walk with Him into places and spaces where His light and His word is needed.
Simple. Nothing more and nothing less.
To God be all the glory for the things that He has done. Today I am happy to say the church is perfect as she is, not to be compared to anything else. She is a living, breathing organism made up of flawed and saved people, who are being transformed into the image of Christ to be sent to the world (marketplaces) with the good news of Jesus Christ, the Savior. I pray that you find yourself exactly where you need to be today.