Formation is a series of posts about ideas and truths God is using to shape us at Pulpit Rock.
“Adulting is hard.”
That is the feedback that I’ve gotten from my daughter several times during the last seven years as she has transitioned from living at home to going to college out of state to graduate school to a full-time teaching job, and finally, to being married. Together, we have helped her walk through all kinds of things from buying groceries and preparing meals to buying new tires for her car and having to handle medical bills and insurance.
While I’m not sure “adult” can be a verb, I do agree that adulting is hard. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what “adulting” looks like at Pulpit Rock Church.
There’s nothing wrong with heavily relying on the advice of spiritual parents when we are new in the faith, but just as in life, there comes a time on our path to maturity where we need to assume responsibility for our own walk with Christ.
True, we will never outgrow the wisdom of seeking advice from others, but there is a difference between leaning on and learning from others and not being mature enough to take responsibility for oneself.
If I am going to be truly thriving and not just barely getting by and surviving, it seems to me that there are at least three main ongoing needs that I need to take responsibility for in my Christian life:
- Constantly renewing my love relationship with Jesus.
- Being in community with others.
- Growing in my understanding of who Jesus is, primarily through growing in my understanding of Scripture so that I am not mislead by false teaching, the enemy, or my own preconceived ideas.
Constantly renewing my love relationship with Jesus.
I’m reminded of the story of the foolish husband who told his wife, “Why do always ask if I love you? I told you during our wedding vows that I did, and I will let know if that ever changes.” Just like a marriage relationship, our relationship with Jesus needs continual expression of our love for him and reminders of his love for us. Jesus probably doesn’t need the constant reminders, but we certainly do.
Romans 12:1 tells us that our proper response to all that God the Father has done for us should be to make ourselves living sacrifices. That is something that only we as individuals can take responsibility for; no one else can do it for you.
Our consciously laying down our lives as an offering to God should be a 24/7 reality in our lives. This is worship according to Romans 12:1.
What is the connection between that kind of worship and what we call the “Worship Service” at 9:00 and 10:30 a.m. on Sunday mornings? Sunday mornings are a tremendous opportunity for us who are individually laying down our lives in worship to come together (#2 on the list above) and hear from God’s Word (#3 in the list) as we collectively lay down our lives to God in worship. Although these second and third elements get incorporated into the worship service, the worship service is mostly about #1 on our list.
Thomas Thompson has likened the worship service and its sermon to the half-time of a sporting event. It is not the game itself, but a time for a brief rest, time for a coach to offer some reminders or adjustment to the game plan, but mostly time for the coach to instill inspiration for the upcoming second half. There simply isn’t enough time at halftime to teach how to throw and catch the ball, or how to run a zone defense—that kind of instruction needs to take place in practices.
Being in community with others.
Pulpit Rock Church has long held the belief that followers of Jesus grow best when we are in community with one another. “Just God and I are enough” is the proper attitude only if you are solitary confinement or stranded alone on a deserted island. The Bible teaches that God has made each of us uniquely and given all of us spiritual gifts.
We cannot function as the body of Christ as God has designed us unless we are both serving and being served by our fellow members of the body.
For my wife Brenda and I, we have taken responsibility for this need in our lives by joining with seven other couples on Friday nights. We meet in a home and have time to get to know each other on a deeper level.
While there may be some inspiration (#1 on our list) and some Bible learning (#3), the focus is leaning on and being a support for one another. We do this primarily by sharing prayer requests and spending time praying. We chose Friday nights because we didn’t want to be constrained by the time limit of an hour, or an hour and 15 minutes, if we met on the Pulpit Rock Church campus on Sunday mornings.
This is our time to live out Hebrews 10:24-25, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”
Growing in my understanding of Scripture.
I am an introvert. I enjoy and am energized by reading and studying alone. At this point in my life, I usually spend between five and ten hours a week reading and studying the Bible; almost all of that is time preparing lessons that I teach to the Growing Together class that meets at PRC on Sunday mornings. Impressed by my spirituality? Don’t be. I’m more motivated by a fear of looking foolish in front the class than anything else. But even that poor motivation serves the very good purpose of me assuming responsibility for this area of growth in my life.
Do you need to teach a Bible class? Of course not. Other people are taking responsibility for this area in their lives by attending classes like Growing Together and engaging with the lesson and with others’ viewpoints. While there is some inspiration (#1) and some fellowship (#2), the focus of our Sunday morning class is primarily about learning the Bible.
Do you have to attend a Sunday morning class in order to take responsibility for this area of spiritual growth in your life? No, while that is one way, there are all sorts of different ways to do #3 on our list. Most of them start with reading the Bible.
But I wouldn’t stop with just reading, I would want to go beyond to studying it and diving deep into its meaning. That might look like an online class or joining a Bible Study Fellowship class. It might involve reading Bible commentaries or other books that focus on the messages found in the Bible. That way we can get the benefit of the expertise and education of others who have spent their lives trying to better understand God’s Word.
Of course, the greatest expert on the Bible is the Holy Spirit who inspired it in the first place. We can benefit from his insights when we listen to him speak through others.
Bible study is probably best when it involves time for both individual reading and meditation on one hand and interaction with other people who offer perspectives that can widen and deepen our understanding.
Adulting isn’t easy when it comes to our walk with Christ.
Just as eating one food group would be a foolish way to try to get all our nutritional needs, so is thinking we can meet all our spiritual needs by attending our Sunday morning worship services.
That may be good start, and something we should all do on a regular basis, but that is only a start.
David White serves as an Elder and leads the Growing Together class on Sunday mornings.