Our family loves going to garage sales. I admit, usually there’s a whole lot of junk, and we walk away from quite a few empty-handed, but we keep going back because there are times when we find treasure in the middle of what we’d consider trash.
When we have a garage sale ourselves, we are always surprised by what sells first. Something that we don’t have any use for is usually the first thing to go! We make predictions while we’re setting up about what might sell first, and we laugh together after we make that first sale.
All of that simply proves that different people value different things. I might not have any use for an off-green macramé plant-hanger, but someone else might be willing to give $2.75 for it! It plays out all over our financial lives… When we give money for stuff, we’re saying that we value that stuff more than we value holding onto our money. Or we might choose to keep our money, because the stuff ‘isn’t worth it.’ It’s all about what we find the most valuable.
Of course, values play an important role in other areas of our lives too, not just our finances. How we live our lives reveals what we value. The things we give our time and attention to reveal what we hold dear.
Recently, our church spent some time drilling down on the things that we value as a congregation, to help us best fulfill the call of God on our church. Our mission is: “We live to love people to life!” Underlying that, we have 4 core values that help us know how we’re going to accomplish that mission. Those 4 values are things that we believe are vital, not only to the church as a whole, but to our personal lives as well.
The first thing that we value is having an “Intimate Relationship with God.” The emphasis there is on ‘relationship.’ We don’t value religious activity. Loving people to life isn’t about following religious rules and practices (although some of those things are involved). Fundamentally, it’s about having a personal relationship with Jesus.
This idea is all over the Bible from cover to cover. God has always been pursuing relationship with humanity. From the very beginning in the Garden of Eden, God walked and talked with Adam and Eve, and was disappointed when they sinned and chose to distance themselves from Him. He spoke to and walked with people throughout history, establishing relationships with the patriarchs and the prophets. Abraham was called God’s friend. Moses talked with God face to face. King David was a man after God’s own heart. God even likened His relationship with His people as a marriage, and when they disobeyed, it was like they were cheating on Him!
Then in the NT, God sent His only Son, Jesus, to earth because He loved humanity. Jesus came to reconcile us to God, providing a way for our forgiveness, restoring the relationship. And when Jesus ascended back into heaven, God sent the Holy Spirit as our personal Comforter and Guide – this is all about relationship!
And so, with God going to great lengths to pursue a relationship with us, at the core of who we are should be the constant pursuit of a relationship with Him! If you don’t have an intimate relationship with God, it’s not His fault. You and I have to pursue Him with all we’ve got!
At church, that means we’ll always have times for worship, prayer and learning from the Bible. It’s how we get to know God. We’ll also encourage you to develop spiritual habits or disciplines, like personal prayer, Bible reading, fasting, giving, and more. It’s through these practices that we encounter God personally and get to know Him. We develop an intimate relationship with God.
If you know our son, Nick, you know that he’s a great, friendly guy who loves to be with people. With over 1,000 followers on Instagram, it’s safe to say that he has quite a following and is well-loved by virtually anyone who knows him. He’s always positive, asking people how they’re doing, and telling those closest to him that he still loves us and cares about us. I mean, he probably says 20 – 50 times a day, “Dad, I still love you!”
This summer, as Nick was being surrounded by friends from across the district as I dropped off our church teens for camp, I heard someone say, “I wish I had that many friends!” To be honest, I was thinking the same thing! And yet, it occurred to me that if we all greeted people like Nick does, with, ‘How are you doing today – are you doing OK?’ and then at some point in the conversation we said, “I still love you” or “I still care about you,” we all might have oodles of friendships!
I wonder if our spiritual lives should be like that? I wonder if, when we pull out our Bible that it’s not really about ‘doing devotions’ or ‘saying our prayers,’ but it’s the pursuit of a relationship. I wonder if, when we come into church on any given Sunday, that it’s not really about the songs we sing or the sermon we hear or the lesson we study or the Scripture we read. I wonder if maybe those things are just ways to help us say, “God, I still love you.” And for us to hear from Him, “I love you too.”
We value an intimate relationship with God.