“I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms” Ephesians 1:19-20 (NLT).
Making the decision to stop continuing to go to the same Catholic Church I had attended for over 14 years was a challenging one for me. It was the Church where I developed many fond memories, like going with my Grandmother and listening to her sing along to the music (they had a wonderful organ and musical director at the time). It was also the Church where I exchanged wedding vows with my husband and the Church where my son was baptized.
However, there came a time when I began questioning how much we were getting out of attending mass there each week. Something was missing and I didn’t know what. There were Priests there that delivered great sermons. But, there really wasn’t a children’s program offered for my toddler. Most Sundays, I could be found in the vestibule chasing after him, because he was just too little to sit still and pay attention. I found it challenging to get engaged.
Then my husband and I found a Christian Church in our area that was recommended to us. We decided to go and give it a try. At first, it felt scary and unfamiliar. There was music, but not the kind of music I had grown up listening to. There was a stage, lights, electric guitars, drums and several vocalists. There were many songs before service began. People were really enthusiastic – lots of clapping and swaying and singing. It was a much different experience compared to our Catholic Church – where most people sang quietly and were more reserved in their worship. That was an adjustment for my husband and me to get used to.
However, the Pastor preached from the Bible in a way that I had never experienced before. The verses were explained to me in a way that I felt related to my life. Certain passages that I found overwhelming or confusing were made clearer. They also offered a children’s ministry for my toddler. The children didn’t just play with toys, they had lessons and activities geared towards their level of understanding. It was such a comfort knowing my son could be engaged like me and also be having fun at the same time. I began to realize that I didn’t have a relationship with God. I was going through the motions. For me, that was the difference for making the decision to leave the Church I had known for so long and moving on to another.
In my Bible Study time this week, I read Chapters 14 through 18 in the Book of Acts. These chapters give examples of many people who come together as a team to help spread the Word of God. Also, there are many people Paul encounters throughout his travels preaching the Word with whom he transforms. A beautiful example of Paul working with others to help spread the Word is through his ministry with Silas.
We meet Silas in Chapter 15 of Acts. He was introduced at a time when there was major controversy over whether Gentile believers should follow the laws of Moses and other Jewish traditions. Just the fact that Gentiles were turning to Christianity and becoming believers was new. There was not a clear understanding of how to apply the Old Testament laws and traditions to the Gentile believers. The churches in Antioch and Jerusalem established delegates to address the issues. Silas was one chosen by the Jerusalem council to represent the Jerusalem church by presenting a letter addressing the issues to the Gentile believers (see Acts 15: 22-29).
What resulted from the collaboration among the churches and the delegates representing them was clarity among the believers. “And there was great joy throughout the church that day as they read this encouraging message” Acts 15:31 (NLT).
Paul then decides that Silas should travel with him to many of the cities he had been to previously, in order to continue spreading the Word. It is a great example of teamwork and working through conflicts that arise for them, as they continue on their missionary journey.
To me, this is such an example of how important it is to surround myself with people demonstrating a desire to live out the Word of God. If I hadn’t found my current Church family, I would not be writing this right now. It has been through others’ examples and dedication to teach the Word of God in my life that I am able to.
Since I began attending my current Church, I have most importantly been baptized a Child of God. I also have made friendships with women, like myself, who desire to step out of their comfort zones to share the Word. My son is also developing a relationship with God and I get to watch him learn and grow through others’ examples of Christ working in their lives.
I can’t help but think what a wonderful world it could be if we all stepped out in faith like Paul and others like him have. We don’t all have to view things the same way, but coming together and having a discussion can certainly be a step in the right direction. I know it starts with me and it is my hope that we can all have open hearts and minds to a life lived serving God and a desire to be an example of love to others.
Heavenly Father, please continue to grow and strengthen me in faith. Help me to be a light, so that when others look at me they see you. Please help our leaders come together for the good of the world in making it a better place – where we see each others as equals and not as enemies. Thank you for my Church family and the many others who have stepped out in their faith to help my relationship with you grow. I pray in Jesus’ most precious name, Amen.