“Jesus sought me when a stranger, wandering from the fold of God.”
Three thousand men sang those words in unison last night at the 2018 Shepherd’s Conference.
And i couldn’t help but think, “the words should be: running from the fold of God.”
You see, for me, my testimony boils down to the fact that by the time i turned 18 i had decided i wanted nothing to do with the church. In the six months that followed i created plans to escape the church, and was ready to carry them out when John 15:6 crashed into my mind at a summer camp:
“If anyone does not remain in Me, he is thrown aside like a branch and he withers. They gather them, throw them into the fire, and they are burned” (emphasis added).
And as soon as i was rescued from my sin i immediately got plugged in to a church. It started by just getting involved in one Bible study, which then became two, which quickly became church at least 3 times a week. I couldn’t get enough of being around God’s people.
And then i moved from Southern California to Missouri for Bible college. Since i was so plugged in to my church in California i put off getting involved in a local church there until a friend challenged me on that view. I took his reproof, and started attending a church in the town i was living in.
Long story short: i had to stop going to that church. In making that decision i quickly began going to another church (for less than solid reasons). I eventually saw no alternative but to leave that church too. After about six more months of sporadically attending two other churches in Missouri, i moved back to California.
Long story short, i feel that a pattern in my life–one of the clearest since even prior to being saved–is wandering from the church.
For this reason i must watch myself extra closely to make sure that if i’m in a position where i feel like i have no choice but to leave a certain local congregation that in so doing i don’t allow bitterness to fester. Since one of my primary temptations prior to salvation was walking away entirely from the church, it can still–even today–be a very strong temptation.
I must watch myself, pray against bitterness, pray for my love for Christ to always grow, and remember that the best way to love Christ is to love His people (which is primarily done in the context of the local church).
What are your patterned tendencies that can lead to sin if not watched closely?
I know for me that if i stay outside the bounds of the church then i will be much more easily pulled in all sorts of negative directions that i don’t want to go.
What is it for you that can potentially derail you and cause you to fall back into very sinful patterns? It might not even be a sin on its own, but even so it could lead to sin, so it must be closely guarded against. What is it for you?
To resist sin and temptation well we must know our patterns. We must know ourselves. How well do you know yourself?
The song i quoted at the beginning goes on: “Jesus sought me when a stranger wandering from the fold of God; He to rescue me from danger interposed His precious blood.”
If His blood was shed for our sin, and if His blood is precious, then we must seek out our sin and put it to death–Romans 8:13 style. We must never excuse even the slightest faults; we must be vigilant; the small ones can become much greater.
For me this means that i must guard my heart from bitterness if i leave a church, quickly find another, and keep my eyes on Christ the whole time!
What’s this look like for you?
Soli Deo Gloria