What will you say when you stand before the judgment seat of God? For all of my life, when I envisioned this scenario, I unwittingly stood before God as condemned as any human has ever been. I hate Satan. I'm terrified of Hell. I love church. I am great at ministry. I can teach any material you hand me to anyone who will listen. I've said all the prayers. I've put in all the time. I've cried all the shameful tears. I've been on the mission trips, rocked the babies, paid the tithes, held hands of the hurting, wept with the addicts, followed the leaders, read the Bible, bought the books, done the work. But, my trust was not in the Lord Jesus. In my mind, for all my life, if given the opportunity to tell God why I deserved to be in Heaven with Him, I would have started every sentence with "I..." I am a Christian. I trusted Jesus with my salvation. I gave my heart to Jesus. I asked Jesus to come into my heart. I went to church.
Sometimes, the hardest portions of Scripture to study are the ones we've had memorized since childhood. Once you see a passage a certain way, it's nearly impossible to see it any other way. Nearly. For example, when I read about Jesus teaching in the temple, in my mind, I see a stage and an audience. Never mind that the priests hated Jesus and wanted Him silent and dead. Even though the last thing Jesus would have been granted in His time was a platform, that's still what I see. When I read about Paul speaking to the church, or letters being read to the church, in my mind, I see buildings with carpeted altars and rows of chairs. Never mind that the early church met in homes until a politician declared it some other way a couple of hundred years after the birth of our ekklesia. Even though there is no such thing as a brick and mortar Christian church in Scripture, that's still what I see. When I read about a tithe or giving, I see plates and buckets being passe
Do not forsake the fellowship... How many times have I, myself, used this verse to admonish a Believer who was not showing up to enough scheduled services each month? How many times have I wielded this verse against people who believed that they could obey all the church Scriptures just by getting together regularly with fellow Believers and loving each other through life? For my entire life, I have understood and used this verse to mean, "Don't you dare miss church services!" It was preached that way. I was taught that way. And I felt strongly that my understanding of that particular Scripture could help people see the value in what we were doing at church. Then, one Sunday during a church service, I stood and worshiped with a sweet sister in Christ. We belted out verses together and raised our hands together. Over the music, we tried to communicate about an upcoming small group series that my husband and I were leading, but because of the noise, waited for our