[Willow Creek Association] 1999-05-12 - Is Church In The Way?

John 3:6 (KJV) That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

Recently I attended a college basketball banquet. Each senior on the team gave a short talk. An interesting comment was made that has stuck in my mind. One player struggled during his freshman year. His coach told him toward the end of his freshman year to stop letting college get in the way of his education. Meaning there is more to college than learning about books and basketball. You learn about people and life. If the focus is strictly books, you miss the real education, the broader education of becoming all you can be in this world.

As I listened I thought, "church sometimes gets in the way of our relationship with Christ." Please understand I am all for the local church and encourage each of you to attend a church that meets your needs. By church, I mean religion. I mean the man-made stuff. I do not consider myself to be a very religious person, but I do consider myself to be a very Christ-centered person, a spiritual person. Religious fads can come and go, but that which is of the Spirit remains forever.

Ask yourself, is church in the way of my relationship with Christ? Am I growing closer to and becoming more like Christ, and becoming the person God has intended for me to become? Am I hung up with whether or not people should worship in coats and ties or blue jeans, or if we should sing with organs, pianos or guitars and drums? Am I all hung up about whether the pastor and the choir are wearing robes or street clothes? Is church in the way because I am so "religious" that others outside my "religion" are wrong and worse, not allowed inside my walls?

How is your relationship with Christ? Do you talk to Him often, and nurture this relationship? Is your church feeding you and growing you up to be all that God intended you to be? Do you have more Faith, Trust, Hope and Love in and for Christ today than yesterday? Don't let church get in the way of your relationship with Christ. It should foster that relationship and joy in knowing Him better and more each day. There is more to church than learning about God; its learning to know Him.

Father, increase in me a hunger for Your Word and Your companionship. Increase in me a hunger to know You better and to let You know me better. Help me to not get caught up in fruitless activities and to focus on that which is of the Spirit. For things of the Spirit last forever. In Christ's name, Amen.