Summary: How a deepened life with God can help us deal with people who disappoint us, people who oppose us, and people who are separated from us.
We as people are always looking for a quick fix to life’s problems. Whether it’s the quickest weight loss fad or the fastest computer, we’re always looking for the easiest, fasted way to achieve our goals. We’re a generation of microwave popcorn and fast food.
This mentality also passes over to our spiritual lives as well. Christians are continually looking for the quick fix to spiritual maturity. Whether it’s the latest best selling Christian book or a popular seminar going from church to church, we’re always looking for that one method to spiritual breakthrough. Some Christians are like quick fix junkies, going from church to church, method to method, fad to fad, looking for that one magic method to give them a deep spiritual life with God.
Today we finish our series Deepening Your Life With God, through the New Testament books of 1 and 2 Timothy. We started this series all the way back in September. We’ve seen throughout this series that there is no quick fix to a deeper life with God. Spirituality isn’t like a packet of microwave popcorn that you can pop in the microwave oven and enjoy just one minute later. True Christian spirituality takes time, effort, and most of all relationships to grow deep.
Throughout these last six months we’ve seen that there are three absolute essentials to a deepened life with God. The first absolute is ACCURATE BELIEFS. Our beliefs about God must line up with what God is really like or we can’t hope to develop a deeper life with God. This is why 1 and 2 Timothy have emphasized the need for sound doctrine four different times (1 Tim 1:10; 6:3; 2 Tim 1:13, 4:3). This is these two letters emphasize the importance of the Bible so much as well. This is why Paul wrote in 2 Timothy that all scripture is God breathed and therefore important to our spiritual development (2 Tim 3:16). Accurate beliefs are essential because our actions flow from our beliefs.
The second essential is being involved in SPIRITUAL PRACTICES. Numerous times these two letters from Paul to Timothy encourage us to live godly lives. Back in 1 Tim 4:7 we saw the command to train ourselves to be godly. The Bible calls us to engage in spiritual practices that will cause us to grow in our devotion to Jesus. These spiritual practices range from daily Bible reading to weekly worship, from daily times of prayer to giving of our finances to ministry. Its impossible to grow deep with God without engaging in these spiritual practices.
The third essential is participating in AUTHENTIC CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY. We’ve seen that 1 and 2 Timothy have a lot to say about how to structure the church, how to select church leaders, and how to order our relationships with each other in the church. In 1 Tim 3:15 Paul called the Christian Church "the household of God" and "the pillar of the truth." That’s how important it is for us to participate in community with other Christians. It’s impossible to grow deep in isolation, but we need the input of other followers of Jesus in the context of a Christian community.
So these are the three essentials. Different factors hold us back from these three essentials. Ignorance and false teaching holds us back from accurate beliefs. A lack of motivation and time constraints hold us back from participating in spiritual practices. But I think the number one thing that holds people back from authentic community is fear.
People are afraid of being hurt by other people, so they build up walls of protection around them. Let’s face it: The closer you get to people, the deeper those people can hurt you. We build up walls because we’re afraid of being betrayed or laughed at, being judged or abandoned. So we avoid real community with other Christians, places where we really let down our guard get involved in the lives of other Christians. We may go to church, but we make sure to make a quick escape after the service, talking to no one along the way. People are held back from authentic community by fear.
And the truth is that if we engage in authentic community, we will get hurt. The risk is a real one. Yet without authentic community, we won’t grow deep in our life with God, at least according to the Bible. All the quick fix substitutes marketed by religious companies can’t compensate for a lack of authentic community.
Today as we finish this series we’re going to talk about dealing with the painful relationships we’re likely to face when we participate in authentic community. We’re going to find that not only is authentic community an essential for a deep life with God, but that a deep life with God will help us deal with these painful relationships. We’re going to look at three kinds of relationships that we’re likely to get hurt in, and how a deepened life with God can help us deal with these painful relationships.