My personal joys in being in this congregation are many! Is it perfect? No. Is it stimulating people to grow and mature in Christ? Yes. That challenge is issued in a variety of ways. The call is for each person to grow continuously closer to God through Jesus Christ. The call is not: "Grow closer to God by submitting to my personal agenda."

This congregation offers an incredible variety of stimulating challenges. No, we do not offer enough. Yes, we will grow and are growing in the variety we offer as God's community. How many forms of challenge should we offer? How many human needs exist? The God who knows the number of our hairs always is interested in the "whole person." Those who recognize their needs can hear His call in Christ.

We need as many challenges as there are needs around and among us. Every realized, addressed need opens realizations to our need for God in our life. Every life reality can focus a person on his/her need for a relationship with God. Such needs represent an enormous variety! They also represent enormous spiritual opportunity!

Never be intimidated by our variety of encouragements/outreaches. Please consider these insights and, if possible, make them your own.

  1. Christians and those who have yet to commit to God through Christ learn and understand by following different paths. "Faith" is not confined to one method of learning. "Spirituality" is not confined to one procedure for understanding what God did and does in Jesus Christ. "Godliness" is not the result of a single method. If someone learns truths about God's work in Jesus Christ in a manner that differs from the route my understanding took, it is okay. Whether my route to understanding was through lectured understanding or knowledgeable sharing/interacting is insignificant.

  2. Thus, paths that arrive at the same genuine understanding may take different routes. For example, the objective is to (a) understand that Jesus is the Christ, and (b) to understand how that affects who I am and how I behave. The route to that understanding is not primary if I understand he is the Christ and let him be Lord.

  3. Different Christians travel at different speeds to a mature understanding. If one is able to travel toward maturity at 70 mph, wonderful! As far as God is concerned, if the best one can do is travel toward maturity at 10 mph, that is equally wonderful! Speed does not define the objective! The destination does.

  4. Thus we always remember Christian variety exists to encourage, not to rival.

Please accept a warning! Never falsely assume, "Someone will do it," or, "Our size means it is covered--all I need to do is enjoy the options." Nothing happens here by "accident." We always need help. Enjoy the variety, but do something to help sustain it.

A goal: create hard choices. Oh, that God would bless our efforts so much that everyone wants to be more places than he or she can be! Be somewhere as part of something!

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 25 January 2004

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