I started looking for a new car. It is an interesting journey. One question I ask involved reliability. I want to drive the vehicle for a long time. This means I am looking not only at first impressions or even cheapest price; I want the vehicle that has long haul credibility. I will accept fewer luxuries to gain greater reliability.
Reliability is a quality of the Christian life. We usually call it faithfulness. Faithfulness is part of living in a covenant relationship. God is faithful to the covenant he made with us in Christ Jesus. Faithfulness is fruit of the Spirit’s indwelling. Faithfulness is a honoured Christian quality.
The spiritual journey is typically a long haul journey. While some may experience an eleventh hour conversion, most of us live our faith for many years. Somewhere we respond to the invitation of Jesus (by grace through faith). Then we experience life: Beautiful experiences, sad experiences, and troubling experiences. The life of faith certainly has its great moments. But we also experience those moments when people disappoint us, communities of faith fail us, and suffering underlines us. It is not an easy journey. The question is: are we prepared for the long haul? What is our reliability factor?
Which leads to another question? What are the aspects of our spirituality that encourage our “reliability” factor?
It seems to me that in order for us to have a spirituality that does not fail us in the long haul, we need to know and experience a number of critical matters:
- A deepening world view (of God and of persons and of the creation) that is faithful to Scripture. Right beliefs help us see and act better.
- A deepening personal identity rooted in following Christ.
- A forgiving grace filled attitude toward others.
- Experience in serving the Lord.
- Faithfulness in our serving experiences.
You may have other thoughts. The point is that reliability does not just appear. It is a work of the Spirit in our lives that happens as we walk with the Lord in our day to day experiences.
Whatever our list, the question worth asking as elders is this: are we as elders developing the programs and asking the questions that will help people develop on the long haul. We can market the church as a community that serves the immediate and real needs of a person. We can give a person a wonderful immediate experience of worship. And then the deeper question is – having tasted the goodness of God in Christ, are we helping people grow in faith and life for the long haul? What is the reliability factor?