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4 Ways to Do More Than Consume Christianity

4 Ways to Do More Than Consume Christianity

“One day you have to move beyond just attending a church and small group, right?” is what my friend said while we discussed our dreams for how to serve at-risk families and recovering addicts in our community. The comment really hit me hard. She was right, at some point, all of us should move beyond just being “fed” by our church and need to take part in becoming the hands and feet of Jesus. Yet, how often does the church remain in consumer mode rather than launching people out to share and show God’s love with the lost in our communities? Do our churches even show us how to become preachers of the good news, or are they designed to keep people content, only serving other believers, never stepping out in faith as His going and doing disciples? Oftentimes we have to think outside the walls of the church to really be able to live out the call to love the ‘least of these’ that Jesus gives us.

The “Great Commission,” as Christians call it, comes from some of Jesus’ last instructions to his disciples. He was preparing them for life after his death, where the Holy Spirit would guide them, and they would be sent out to build His church. Matthew 28:18-20 is where Jesus gives this speech. The text says, “Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

These words are part of what we are called to do as Christ's followers. When we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we are given authority. We are told to obey his teachings and then make disciples of the nations! Some of us may actually go to the nations, but for most of us, we need to focus on reaching our neighbors before we tackle the nations.

What is the danger of a consumer-focused church? Apathy, lukewarm faith, and ultimately a lack of passion for God make it clear we are called to be all in if we want to be counted as his. We stop seeing God really move in our world because we don’t actually touch people that have needs beyond the scope of what is easily fixed with a little self-help and logic. Living this way leads to a faith that wanes and doubts grow. We start to fall away from the God we claim to love because we stop seeing him actually move, speak, and see his creation.

I assure you, though, that if you inch out of your comfort zone and take a baby-toe step of faith, you’ll start to meet God in a new way. The world is hurting and in need. We do not serve a blind or powerless God. He is waiting for us to partner with him in doing the great work of bringing Heaven down to Earth.

What is one step out of just attending that small group, bible study, or Sunday service (all good things, but God has more for us than just spiritual consumption)? Here are some ideas to begin to take that Great Commission to heart!

1. Pray Bold Prayers

Every miracle starts with a request. That sounds silly, but it’s true! God acts when we come, seek, and knock. He partners with us, and we don’t see his grace unfold until we cry out for more of it in our lives. For my husband and I, we felt a nudge to step out of our comfort zone but truly had no idea where to begin! We had a comfortable life (thankfully) and really were not sure how we could serve outside of what we already knew. So, our first step was to pray!

God is faithful to hear our prayers and answer them. He led us to a foster-to-adopt meeting, and we felt the nudge from the Holy Spirit to begin the foster parent training. This tiny step of faith has led to many more that have given us eyes to see God’s heart and hand at work in the lives of people we would have never met outside of this role. The journey continues, and the beautiful thing is, as we’ve stepped more toward faith and away from comfort, our faith has grown! What seemed insane to us a few years back seems entirely possible with Christ.

Church congregants, DOJ argues that restrictions on churches should be rolled back

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2. Follow Your Passions

God has given us each gifts and talents that he desires to see you use for his glory! If you love art, then we don’t need to force ourselves to serve at the coffee bar at church because that seems like the right thing to do. You need to see how you can use art to glorify God! Let using your gifts and passion be the place you shine for him.

My husband and I have a passion for at-risk families and kids! We both have a teaching background and have spent time serving in low-income schools. It makes sense that the place God called us to is to serve children and families in tough situations. My husband is a cellist. He loves making music. When he dreams about how to glorify God in the church or community, music always comes into play. It’s the way he feels God most.

We all are created uniquely, and what a cool gift that is! Pursue using your talents as a means to serve and share God’s love with others. It’s then you will feel that giving truly is better than receiving because you get to give from a heart of joyful love!

3. Learn More about Your Community Needs

Sometimes we don’t see a need because we are too lazy or distracted to open our eyes. Other times we get so overwhelmed by all the needs that feel too big for us to touch we just throw up our hands in desperation, believing we are powerless to push back the darkness that covers our world. Both of these attitudes are ways that the Devil keeps Jesus-loving Christians out of the spiritual war that is underway in our world. Apathy and helplessness stop us from living out God’s call on our lives.

One of my favorite quotes is that it's far better to light a candle than to curse the darkness. Meaning each person has a chance to use their life to be a light to the lost. We have to focus on being the light rather than getting hung up on the enormity of the darkness.

What issues hit closest to your heart? Start with those ones. Learn more about the people around you dealing with those issues. Are you burdened for those affected by the opioid crisis? Take time to learn more about what is happening in your community to support those facing this struggle. Ask God if there is a way you can encourage a person or family affected by this terrible addiction. When we start asking God to show us the lost, he is sure to bring them into our lives and use us as an encouragement to them.

4. Give Generously

Jesus instructs his disciples to go out and share the good news because he wants us to give freely of ourselves to others. We are made for sharing. Lots of times, we are afraid to take steps of faith because they always cost something.

Serving and sharing the good news requires time, money, care, stress, and the list goes on! 2 Corinthians 9:6-8 tells us, “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” Meaning that even though it can be scary to give, in the end, the call to give is for our own good. We live better lives when they are freely shared.

I am astonished by the number of miracles I’ve seen God do in our family since the day we said yes to fostering, and I know God is not done yet! Truly I realized that miracles aren’t rare, they happen all the time! When we start to really see our huge need for God, we see that everything we accomplish only happens by his grace. It may feel impossible to start sharing our faith more than just consuming it, but it’s not, and the only reason that is true is that it’s by God’s strength that we are able to be a part of his miracle story!

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Amanda Idleman is a writer whose passion is to encourage others to live joyfully. She writes devotions for My Daily Bible Verse Devotional and Podcast, Crosswalk Couples Devotional, the Daily Devotional App, she has work published with Her View from Home, on the MOPS Blog, and is a regular contributor for Crosswalk.com. She has most recently published a devotional, Comfort: A 30 Day Devotional Exploring God's Heart of Love for Mommas. You can find out more about Amanda on her Facebook Page or follow her on Instagram.