1 Corinthians 5:5 | Church, Flesh, and Spirit

Paul writing to the church in Corinth is responding to news of unashamed sexual deviancy in the church. There is a person living with his “father’s wife” and the church at this location has accepted his life and his choice. The mantra of this moment and of today “who are we to judge”? But Paul does not respond this way. Paul has harsh words for the church and Paul tells the church that they should remove this person from the fellowship by turning him over to Satan. Paul can make this judgement and this command because we know what is right and what is wrong as God has given us his moral laws.

5 you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord. 1 Corinthians 5:5 ESV

Paul wants to make it clear to the rest of the church and to this individual that is flaunting a sinful life that unashamed sin and the church cannot coexist. Paul’s plan to “deliver this man to Satan” is to send him out of the church and into the world where he can practice his sin as he sees fit. Notice also that Paul states this is an opportunity, maybe the only opportunity, that this man may have to recognize his need for God and to therefore save his soul. This man may go out and destroy his life in lust but hopefully he will learn how temporary and unfulfilling this lust filled life will be. How many a man has seen their life destroyed by lusts and passions?

The flip side of this problem is what would happen if the church allowed this man remain living in unashamed sin within their fellowship. What if the church did not judge and accepted his choice? There are two impacts of making that choice. First is the impact to this man. He would remain confused and unrepentant mistaking the Church’s approval for God’s approval. Regardless of what we claim to be true or claim to be false God defines truth. “Let God be true, and every human being a liar” (Romans 3:4 ESV). What kind of shock might it be when this man meets Christ and then says to Jesus I served in your church. To those words Jesus responds “I never knew you. Away from me” (Matthew 7:23 ESV). Second the impact of accepting this lifestyle in the church is that is would spread to others. Paul makes this point clear to the church by reminding them of the Passover instructions.

6 Your boasting is not good. Don’t you know that a little yeast leavens the whole batch of dough? 7 Get rid of the old yeast, so that you may be a new unleavened batch—as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. 8 Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old bread leavened with malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. 1 Corinthians 5:6-8 ESV

I stated earlier that this man should be sent away so that he can live his life as he sees fit. Paul is not telling him to leave the relationship with his step mother. Leaving or staying with her is his choice. Paul is saying that he can’t choose that relationship and the church. And it is here that Paul concludes his instruction to the church.

12 What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? 13 God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked person from among you.” 1 Corinthians 5:12-13 ESV

In practical terms very few churches will “kick” people out of the church. I have heard of such things but in modern America someone may leave one church and find open arms with one down the road. Many people never build roots in church they only jump from place to place until they are offended or are not shown the love they expect. In current culture this process is much more self-selected as the vision and message of the individual church conflicts with lifestyles of that type of member. But this is the purpose of the church to challenge us with God’s perfect standard so that repentance has a chance to bring new life. By not expecting change we remain dead and broken.

38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.” Acts 2:38-39 ESV

1 Corinthians 5:13 | Excommunication is that a Real Thing?

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Excommunication sounds painful and is always portrayed in a negative way. To be sure the very idea and the process could in no way be fun for anyone involved. In fact I imagine it would be recieved with tears and grief if practiced in real life.

“Excommunication is the exclusion of an irrevocably rebellious sinner from the communion of the faithful. Excommunication has been understood primarily as a medicinal measure, to recall to repentance and obedience. A secondary purpose is to safeguard the community’s purity. (Elwell, 422)”

Kicking someone out of the church based on this definition is done for two reasons. First as an act of discipline for an unrepentant member who is violating the standards of the church community. Second as an act of protection against an unrepentant member of the Church that could pull others away from the obedient life of service to God. So what is the real expectations and process of judging and condemning someone in such a way? Should it ever be done? How should the church approach the quickly shifting cultural standards of America and western society that require unending support for nontraditional lifestyles?

Paul in his letter to the Corinthians addressed just this issue in a Church that lived in a wealthy and sexually progressive society. Corinth being a hub for a major trade route would not have been an easy place to start one of the early Christian Churches.

9 I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— 1 Corinthians 5:9 ESV

Such a request would be impossible when the society itself has sexually immoral people in every stratus. Much like contemporary life where marriage is becoming an exception and who one has sex with can float between same or opposite sex at a whim. Where living together is more common because society champions selfishness by postponing family and children to much later in life if at all. Sexually immoral lifestyles are not only accepted but expected. Such a request from Paul would create a church so inwardly turned and cut off from the world that it would be almost impossible to share the gospel. Thankfully Paul clears up any confusion in the following verse.

11 But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. 1 Corinthians 5:11 ESV

Anyone who bears the name of brother is the target of Paul’s call to not associate. When Paul says to not even eat with such a person he is in effect calling for excommunication of someone in the church. Before diving into that it would be appropriate to spend just a moment recognizing that this clarification also means that the Church must continue fellowship with the sinners who are not part of the church.

12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? 13 God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.” 1 Corinthians 5:12-13 ESV

The church has a completely reasonable and appropriate authority to discipline those who submit to Christ’s authority but those outside the church are the concern of God himself. This is why the Church can be out in the community serving those who do not know Christ in love and acceptance without judgment or condemnation. If you as a Christian like the idea of standing on a street corner with a sign condemning in unflattering terms certain groups of people then Paul is in effect telling you to stop it. That is not your job. Your job is to build relationships and interact with that community to share the gospel.

Paul’s intent in this letter however is really focused on the discipline within the church and why the Corinthians were accepting of a man who was living openly with his Father’s mother. Paul in no uncertain term makes it clear that this man should be removed from the fellowship in the church. “Let him who has done this be removed from among you”, “Cleanse out the old leaven” and ”Purge the evil person”. While this sounds harsh this person was openly living a life contrary the standards expected of someone born again who should be living for Christ. This man was championing himself not Christ. While the church is full of sinners the church cannot be full of unrepentant sinners. I know my shortcomings and I would in no way want to champion and justify those inside the community of believers. The Christian life assumes a few things namely that all the selfish ambitions of this world and the self-gratifications that are outside of God’s perfect standards be laid down.

15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 1 John 2:15 ESV

There are two domains. The “World” where Satan and sin rule and the “Church” where Christ and obedience to his standards rule. Bringing the world into the church is not acceptable any more than Christians bringing light into the world is wanted or desired by those who are hiding from their Creator. While is seems harsh that Paul would want them to remove this person from fellowship in the church it was not done in anger or spite. His goal was in hope that such discipline would change the man’s heart (notice the woman is not spoken of in the same way because most likely she is not part of the church) and he might leave this godless lifestyle and return in repentance to Christ.

5 you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord. 1 Corinthians 5:5 ESV

Paul by turning the man back out into the world where Satan has domain it hopeful that he will be saved because otherwise continuing in unrepentance the alternative is Hell. Is excommunication a real discipline that the church should be practicing? Yes but mostly this happens already in a kind of self-selection because an unrepentant individual is not going to be comfortable in the light that is natural within a church living through obedience to Christ. However there are times that someone who has intent to infiltrate and challenge the standards of God’s word from within the church must be removed publically in the manner that Paul asked of the Corinthians. The Church must be and remain a place of truth, trust, and togetherness in Christ Jesus.

2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2 ESV

 

Judges 4:4 | Gender Roles

Deborah is one of twelve judges recorded in the Bible that leads Israel in the time between Joshua and the eventual establishment of a king. What makes Deborah especially unique is that she is a woman and her introduction gives several keys about her role as a leader.

4 Now Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lappidoth, was judging Israel at that time. 5 She used to sit under the palm of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim, and the people of Israel came up to her for judgment. Judges 4:4-5 ESV

In this introduction we are given a glimpse into a powerful leader. She holds the office of Prophet and Judge demonstrating that God’s hand is on her both spiritually and administratively. Deborah is a successor and a peer to Moses in both spiritual and administrative leadership for the nation of Israel.

13 The next day Moses sat to judge the people, and the people stood around Moses from morning till evening. Exodus 18:13 ESV

So it begs the question should women be spiritual or administrative leaders in the life of the Church? The contemporary culture would answer a resounding yes and it has become normal to see women successfully running large corporate organizations, holding leadership posts in government organizations, and possibly very soon the first woman may be made president of America. Inside the church however there are divisions around what spiritual leadership roles women should have and just how much influence that role should wield.

This question about roles of men and women is also directly linked to the current cultural shift of “genderless” bathrooms in the public square. The post gender society is just around the corner. The push in society to prove that women are equal to men has taken on other head scratching forms as well. The idea for example that women can do anything men can do even extends to the physical realms like war and sports. As a side note I once believed the Hollywood version of women’s ability to easily beat men who have height and weight advantages until I saw this boxing match between a wrestling body builder female and the average blue collar middle aged male. I was appalled at the real life way he abused his advantage and this boxing match quickly reminded me why it is in poor taste for men to fight women to begin with. The push to make men more feminine has also gained in popularity as abrasive “masculine” qualities are not as desired in business, school, or refined company. In the cultural quest to make men and women equal lost are wonderful things that make men and women unique and distinct. Women and men are equal in that both are created in God’s image, but contrary to culture norms women and men are not the same in design. They are distinctly different and as a society loosing that modesty and distinction may prove detrimental to the foundation of society.

Regardless what culture tells one about the roles of women and men the real answer in the organization of the church must come from God’s unchanging words and truth. The contentious words relevant to the question around women serving in spiritual leadership roles is found primarily here in Paul’s instructions to Timothy.

11 Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. 12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve; 14 and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. 1 Timothy 2:11-14 ESV

There are two words that represent the two most popular sides to this issue. First is Egalitarian and the second is Complementarian.

Egalitarian – believing in the principle that all people are equal and deserve equal rights and opportunities

Complementarian – men and women have different but complementary roles and responsibilities in marriage, family life, religious leadership, and elsewhere.

The Egalitarian view is the view held most closely by current society and it is a wonderful view to champion. America itself is founded on such a view even from the Declaration of Independence. “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights”. The distinction however is that while all “men” are created equal before God in their rights they are not created equal in opportunity and that is where the Egalitarian view falls apart. I was born too short and without the athletic skills necessary to play basketball in the NBA. While I have an equal right to purse and try to play basketball in the NBA I do not have the same equal opportunity that Michael Jordan took advantage of. I am born as a man with male anatomy I do not have the same equal opportunity to be a mother and give birth to a child. The fact is everyone has unique unequal opportunities that set them apart and drive their passions in life. God has ordained an order and a plan for everyone.

11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11 ESV

God’s plan His opportunity for everyone is different and unequal.

Do you for one moment suppose any of us knows enough to call God into question? Clay doesn’t talk back to the fingers that mold it, saying, “Why did you shape me like this?” Isn’t it obvious that a potter has a perfect right to shape one lump of clay into a vase for holding flowers and another into a pot for cooking beans? Romans 9:20-21 MSG

Egalitarian while noble cannot be used as an excuse to demand equal opportunity where God has limited design and purpose.

The other view is complementarian and it is here that we find more consistency with the God’s purpose and design for His creation. From the beginning God created Men and Women to be distinct and to care for each other in complementary but equal roles.

18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” Genesis 2:18 ESV

Both men and women are equal in rights before God just like the Egalitarian view however they are not equal in opportunity. Women have advantages that are not available to men and men have advantages that are not available to women. The real question is not if that is a true statement but where the lines of advantage are drawn. The culture wants to make that line disappear and the genderless bathroom is just a current example of that push. Complementarian worldview is especially noticeable in regard to family structure and it appears in Paul’s instruction to Timothy that this calling extends into the makeup of the church itself.

In family fathers and mothers have different roles and while those lines may look slightly different from family to family the general rules still apply. The larger point is that while family structures vary from a traditional father and mother, single parent, and even same parent (two mothers or two fathers) the ideal and original intent as designed by God is that of a father and mother. I was raised in a single parent home. It worked but only by God’s mercy and even then that family life would have been better served in a two parent home.

Fathers and Mothers have different roles in the home and in the same way God has established a similar order in the larger Church family. Women and Men are both capable of spiritual leadership and there are many examples of Godly women who are qualified to lead a church or teach even though Paul taught Timothy a role based structure for the Church. Exactly how that line should be drawn may vary between churches and denominations. And it appears that in some cases God has given women the opportunity to lead like Debora. However I believe like a single parent home this is a function of people working out their best plan in a fallen world outside of God’s perfect standards and leading the nation of Israel in Debora’s case is not leading a Church. I would vote for the right woman to be president of the nation, but I would be hesitant to make that same vote to run a church. In light of scripture the ideal that should be desired and worked at is a God directed role and function where we do not lose the role God assigned for each person to play. Pushing to make the church align to a post gender society does not honor God’s perfect plan for our lives and does not honor who God created men and women unique.

Genesis 2:24 | Marriage

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Genesis means origin or source of a beginning and that is exactly what the first book of the Bible is about. Chapter one verse one of the Bible “In the beginning God…” it is clear, biblically speaking, that everything exists because of God. He is the creator. Chapter two while continuing the origin history takes a deeper look into the creation of man himself and it is most likely written not from God’s perspective like chapter one but from Adam’s perspective. Henry Morris the well-respected Creation scholar believes that starting in Chapter two we have the genesis account as written by Adam himself giving us his descendants the view of things as he understood them (Morris, 83). Reading Genesis two from this perspective brings much needed context to the text. That context is what Adam writes to tell us about is the first Marriage, the marriage of our eldest grandparents.

24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. Genesis 2:24 ESV

It all started because God recognized that Adam needed a companion and a peer of his own. The Triune God is relational and having created Adam in his image he knew that companionship would be required.

18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” 19 Now out of the ground the Lord God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. 20 The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. Genesis 2:18-20 ESV

God knew having created Man אִישׁ (ish) that the creation would need one more introduction before being complete on that sixth day (Genesis 1:27). Adam saw her and called her Woman אִשָּׁה (isha).

Man and Woman have been created and this relationship between Adam and Eve is established in the order and natural laws as God intended. Our own family histories are full of examples of two becoming one and our family histories are full of examples where this relationship has not worked out as one might have hoped going in.

Marriage is no easy relationship. It is amazing that two people man and woman would choose to come together and promise to continue the relationship until death separates them. There is something special and sacred about marriage and our forefather chose to write about marriage first. His being married to the most perfect woman ever created.

The example that God set for Adam is that marriage is between one man and one woman. As a society we have come to accept that many people want more than this singular ideal. However becoming one flesh with three or four people was not the model God created. Giving half of oneself to one person and then giving another half to someone else was not the model God created. Giving oneself to someone of the same gender was not the model God created. So why do we see so many people seeking after relationships and companionships outside of what God originally intended? Time does not permit an exploration of each of these detours from the original but I would like to address polygamy because it occurred, seemingly, with God’s blessing in the Bible and a time is coming in contemporary America where a push may be made to make that acceptable once again. I think by addressing this model through the context of Biblical history that we can see where God’s perfect plan of one man and one woman remains the ideal and it is an ideal that ultimately points to Christ.

We know that several men of the Bible had multiple wives. We know that that God did not forbid the act and it seems that it held a place in society out of necessity. I say necessity because the context and the time when it was practiced is not the same context we live in today. The rule of law was based on a more feudal system where power rested with those that could care and protect others. Women having a more difficult time securing a wage or daily necessities depended on an intact household for survival. Isaiah’s prophecy about the future doom of the nation of Israel and Judah because of their rebellion against God notes a relevant reality that took place because of the hardship and exposure that women would face.

And seven women shall take hold of one man in that day, saying, “We will eat our own bread and wear our own clothes, only let us be called by your name; take away our reproach.” Isaiah 4:1 ESV

In essence because of how few men would be left due to war and how desperate the social structure would be women would want to attach themselves to household name for protection so they would not be sold into slavery or worse. Another example is in giving ground rules for the king where God warns the king not to take many wives just because he has the power and the means to do so.

17 And he shall not acquire many wives for himself, lest his heart turn away, nor shall he acquire for himself excessive silver and gold. Deuteronomy 17:17 ESV

God’s reason for telling the king to avoid this lifestyle is that it would turn his heart away from the true reality of life. God’s perfect plan was one man and one woman and a move to any other life that was born out of anything other than necessity would corrupt the heart of everyone involved.

What was permitted and what was born out of necessity is not needed in contemporary culture. Most, dare I say all, people living today would find that polygamy as permitted in the context of Old Testament is no longer needed. Women no longer need the protection of a household because they can make money on their own and they can call upon the resources of Governments and communities for their protection if needed. Even by the time of Christ this was becoming mostly true. Paul in his letter to Timothy that lays out much of the rules for the contemporary church organization and sets firm qualifications for leaders in the church.

12 Let deacons each be the husband of one wife, managing their children and their own households well. 1 Timothy 3:12 ESV

Each household of one man and one woman fulfills God’s original perfect plan from the very beginning. Husband and Wife is the order just as Adam and Eve wrote in their letter to us in Genesis Chapter two. This beginning like many events recorded in the Bible also points to a more perfect relationship. That is the marriage relationship between Jesus and his Church.

25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. 28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body. 31 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. 33 However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. Ephesians 5:25-33 ESV

It is most amazing to me that Adam’s letter written to us points to the future of Jesus being united to the Church making them one. Being part of the body of believers give you access to the Creator as the daughter-in-law of the Father. Being united with Christ the son of God with all the inheritance and protection that one could ever need through marriage. Now is the time of grace and mercy to be accepted and be part of that family of God. Will you reject or yield to that perfect marriage in Christ?

 

Acts 1: The Promise has Arrived!

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Acts is the second half of the Gospel of Luke and primarily concerned with the actions of the apostles many of whom were direct disciples of Jesus in the gospels. In the conclusion of Luke and in the start of Acts we see the disciples soon to be apostles waiting for something unknown and unimaginable.

3 He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God. 4 And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; 5 for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” Acts 1:3-5 ESV

Jesus has spent time with them and convinced them of his resurrection. Jesus has restored Peter and given him charge of the church (John 21:17)

15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. John 14:15-17 ESV

Jesus has been promising the Spirit to the disciples before his death and after the resurrection but God through his prophets has promised the Spirit to be in those who love him long in advance. While Jesus who is God in the flesh is powerful and amazing he is still finite in the sense that men are limited to time and space. The Holy Spirit will not be bound to those finite constraints. Jesus as always is allowing God’s prefect plan to unfold right in front of the disciples.

26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. Ezekiel 36:26-28 ESV

God is going to do what we are unable to do ourselves and that is transform our hearts. He will put into us his Holy Spirit who will act on our hearts and transform our desires and hopes. In anticipation of this big day Jesus has asked the apostles to stay in Jerusalem and wait for Him to act.

Before Jesus ascends there is an interesting interaction recorded here in Acts. It is great example of how the disciples still did not understand the plans and power of Christ to build the eternal kingdom. Jesus has just told them to wait for the Holy Spirit in Jerusalem but their questions pick right up where they left off in their thinking before Jesus died.

 6 So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Acts 1:6-8 ESV

Jesus are you now going to destroy the Romans and restore Israel to power? This is what the disciples think they really wanted from Jesus. It is why Judas betrayed Jesus (John 13:29). It is why Peter was ready to go to war when Jesus was taken (John 18:10-11). But that was not God’s plan. God’s plan was not to enrich Judas or send Peter to war. God’s plan is grace and mercy here and now. God’s plan is to save mankind and restore our relationship with Him. God’s plan is just as he said through Ezekiel hundreds of years before to change the heart of men.

Acts 1:8 is the gospel charge from Jesus to the disciples once the promised Holy Spirit arrives and the same charge stands true for the church of today. It is a promise that Luke uses here “you will be” in the same way that Luke recorded Jesus’ words to the thief on the cross “you will be”. Jesus makes a promise about God’s plans and passion for saving mankind.

43 And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” Luke 23:43 ESV

 

8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Acts 1:8 ESV

Will you be part of that promise to witness to anyone and everyone through the power of the Holy Spirit living inside?

Adding Church to Vacation Plans?

When you go on vacation for an extended weekend or week-long trip what do you do with the time that is normally spent serving at your home Church? Sleep in? If visiting family go to their church? Just plan Sunday as one of the vacation days to visit the amusement parks, or go straight to the beach? Whatever your vacation plans do you ever think about visiting a local church in the area you are at for vacation?

While on vacation this year the thought crossed my mind. We as a family have not taken many vacations in fact this is the first time in over three years. This vacation is a bit of a celebration of stability, financial success, and down time to enjoy the fruit of our labors. While we may have worked hard to get to this place I must pause here to recognize that God has blessed us and provided for our needs and even more.

Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. Psalm 127:1 ESV

As I contemplate the idea of visiting a church local to the vacation area I start asking questions. What is the point? What will I benefit from visiting? Will I hear a sermon of such magnitude that it will change my life or give me pause? Lord, Father, seriously is this something you want from me? I dislike anything that is done simply because it is a duty. I must have a reason or I will only do it out of disgruntled obedience and that is no way to serve God. So I think about the positives for visiting a Church and see what stands out.

Here are some reasons I came up with why I should visit a church while on vacation out of town…

• I might hear a good sermon.
• Obedience to Jesus is a good thing even if I am skeptical. He does see the bigger picture after all.
• It would be good for my children as I set an example on how important church is even on vacation.
• It would only be an hour or two tops and then it will be over.
• I really think the Holy Spirit is asking that I do this in service to Him.

As I sit, think, and meditate on this idea running in my head the Holy Spirit speaks to me a fundamental truth. I am reminded what a selfish and ungrateful person I am to the blessing, power, and gifts He has given to me.

For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you— that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine. Romans 1:11-12 ESV

Look at the list I have written. It is a long list of what I would gain by visiting a church in the area where I am on vacation. It is a sad list and it is here that I am ashamed. It is not about me. It is about what others might benefit, it is what the church might gain. The gain is encouragement in the faith. Most Churches love visitors and are more than welcoming. What if my visit is an encouragement to them? If my family visits a church one Sunday and it is a blessing and encouragement to them to continue the work and service that they are doing for God then why should I withhold that blessing because of my own selfishness? God has called us to be one body in Christ. Why would I not make visiting other churches part of the planning process of vacations? Who knows how God might use my obediance to be a blessing others.