Belief isn’t belief because of who you associate with or who you agree with. Belief is belief because you have enough conviction that it reflects in your choices. Belief is manifest in our will, not just our mind. We’ll do the things we actually believe.
Gathering for the purpose of discussing, developing and detailing a belief system is not evidence of belief. Belief will play out in our choices and pursuits. If we say we believe in God, we will pursue God. If we say we believe in God, we will make choices consistent with His direction.
Earlier in my life, I would have said that I believe in God, but I didn’t really. My belief was cultural, not personal. God, by His very name, invokes worship or He isn’t God, He is just an idea of a possible God. He was and is God all along, just not your God until you submit your life to Him. Submission will be reflected in behaviors and choices.
My thoughts about the possibility of God and belief in the idea of God became submission when I pursued Him, encountered Him and gave my life to Him. The revelation of the grace of Jesus, for me, changed everything. It was no longer theoretical, it was beneficial.
By the grace of Jesus, I realized I had access to God. I pursued Him. I read and listened and prayed and considered. I was different because He made me different and those differences started to show up. Different choices and behaviors not because I thought God wanted me to act certain ways, but because He had made me an entirely different person. That new person was emerging.
That pursuit born of that encounter and new birth resulted in an appetite for more of the same grace and goodness that initiated it. I was a disciple of Jesus Christ because I met Him, He healed me and I never wanted to go back to where I had been.
Gathering in a church is a byproduct of that transformation. Meeting with others to worship is what I do, in part, as part of that pursuit of more. The church gathering, however, never became more important than actually knowing Jesus. Whatever I gain in the corporate experience, it doesn’t replace the personal pursuit.
Church can’t replace the individual pursuit that reflects discipleship. It’s not the job of the pastor to “feed” you. Feeding comes from the Source and we can pull up to the table any time we want. In fact, if there has been a new birth born of the grace of Jesus, we won’t be able to stay away from the table no matter what church we attend on any given weekend.