Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Pick up your fork

This is what I talked to my 11th grade girls about last weekend in BLGS (small group). I think it challenges all stages of the Christian life so I thought I'd share it with you.

When my son was moving into the “I want to be a big boy” phase we were teaching him how to eat—how to chew his food, how to use a fork, why we don’t throw the green beans, we eat them—without question, the most difficult task we faced was getting him to the point where he fed himself. He would devour a mouthful of mac & cheese, but we had to put it on the fork and put it in his mouth. This wasn’t really going to help him in the long run though. He had to learn to feed himself. Sometimes he will regress back to that because he is being lazy or complacent, not because he is not able. We know he can do it. But what he ends up learning is that if he doesn’t feed himself, he will still be hungry.

Recently, I talked with someone who shared with me of their plan to find a new church. This person felt that he could no longer attend church because he was not “being fed.” I have heard these words countless times before and it got me wondering, Could it be that so many get to this place of feeling they’re not “being fed” be due to the fact that they haven’t learned how to feed themselves? Or could it also be that there are many who never get beyond the contentment and complacency of having someone else feeding them? Doing the work for them?

The writer of Hebrews boldly confronts the church by saying, “We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God's word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.” (Hebrews 5:11-14, TNIV).

Church is not a restaurant we go to once a week to be fed and get the nourishment we need to sustain us the rest of the time. We need to learn how to grocery shop for ourselves, read recipes, to cook and feed ourselves and others. After all, if you can’t feed yourself, you starve.

Acts 2 is a description of the early Church. Luke tells us that the people “devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer” (Acts 2:42, TNIV). Somewhere very early in the journey these people went from “being fed” to doing the feeding. They may have continued to be taught, led, fed, discipled and cultivated, but they also began to teach, lead, feed, cultivate and make disciples.

And I believe they also figured something else out: if I’m not serving-putting my gifts to use-then I’ll eventually wind up starving. The cup gets full and has to be poured out. Otherwise, it cannot be filled again.

Most often, it seems that those who feel they are not “being fed” are the ones who have failed to feed anyone else. After all, Jesus wrapped a towel around His waist, washed His disciples feet and told them, “This is what it looks like to follow me.”

It seems to me that if someone has “counted the costs” as Jesus tells us to in Luke 14, and we understand that we must “take up our cross”—something no one else can do for us—then there has to be a point when we begin taking responsibility for our walk. There must come a day when we pick up our own fork and begin to feed ourselves.

I am not saying that we have no need for listening to sermons, hearing God’s word taught and proclaimed or attending Bible study. These are tools that we have as the Church—His Body—that assist us in our walk. In fact, these tools actually further the point. If you’re attending a church where the Word of God is being accurately proclaimed, where the Bible is being taught, where the fellowship of the believers is present, where the Body of Christ is being the Church and still, somehow, you’re not being fed … could it be you just haven’t learned to use your own fork?

Paul says that the Church should “equip God’s people to do His work and build up the Church … until we come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature and full grown in the Lord” (Ephesians 4:12-13, NLT). Paul makes references in Colossians, Philippians and elsewhere about being “mature” in our faith. Are you striving for this? Or are you still wanting someone else to feed you?

My challenge to you is this: Stop coming to church and only putting your bibs on and waiting for us to feed you. Instead try coming to church, putting on an apron and start feeding and serving other people. Only then will you find the nourishment necessary to stay alive.


MOM said...

Well said - we expect the minister to minister to US in the way WE receive it instead of stretching out to others (wherein we receive without planning to). Uplifting others always uplifts us as a by-product.
Actually, reading your words I thought - this would make a great sermon. Have you thought of being a ghostwriter for pastors????????
You have knowledge and SIGHT.

Brian and Cherie Landowski said...

Very well said Bethany...and very convicting. Not so much on the serving end as the feeding myself part. I really struggle to take time to have a quiet time every day and I know in my heart that I need to. I just don't get why it is SO hard to just sit down every day and open my Bible and my heart to what God has to say!

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