If you know me at all, you know that authentic, transparent community is very important to me. Christians absolutely need the “three-legged stool” of the Scriptures, the Spirit, and the Saints to live the life that God wants for us; take one away and the stool falls. It takes all three to truly experience the life that God wants for us. The first two “legs” of the stool are the “easy part,” at least for me. I am a total Bible nerd whose passion is expository preaching and Bible teaching, so the Scriptures are like water for my soul. I have a growing and healthy prayer life, and seek the Spirit’s guidance throughout the day. Naturally there is always room for improvement, but these are not my areas of weakness.
At my core, though, I am a social animal. I am an extrovert, a jokester, and a people person. I absolutely, 100% need the people of God in my life in order to be the man that God wants me to be. Yes, that means that I have mentorship from good and godly men who kick me in the pants when I need it. It also means that the men in my church keep me accountable to walking with Christ, as friends helping me chart an appropriate course. Sometimes that gets very serious, whether that be friends praying over me when I have a rough Sunday morning preparing for church (happened this week…true fact) or me asking a friend in Christ to remember who owns them and forsake sin.
Other times, not so much. At our annual church picnic we have a tradition that we raise money for a cause within our church by auctioning pies. Anyone who bids $100 or more on a pie can, if they choose, throw that pie at their pastor. This year the money raised went to our “Acts 2:45 Fund,” which goes to help those in our congregation who have financial troubles. This year we raised over $600 to put in the fund! Even though the picnic officially got rained out, we stayed at church and had a potluck instead, then auctioned pies and pelted me with them. There is much glee and happiness over this tradition of smiting me with custard!
Everyone who stuck around for the picnic had a great time. It really warmed my heart to see about 130 or more people have a meal together and get to know one another better. Just standing in the corner of our worship hall listening to the cacophony of voices and seeing people talk warmed by heart! It wasn’t really deep or significant conversation for the most part. It was just a fun afternoon of hanging out with friends in Christ. God reminded me that not every interaction with my family in Christ needs to be serious and eternally significant; having fun and being silly and just being friends is good for my soul too!
Look at the smiles on people’s faces in this picture! The little girl letting me have it was a first-time visitor brought by a friend. She asked me earlier how old she had to be to be baptized, a pretty serious conversation! We talked about what baptism meant and about the Lord. Thanks, God, for the opportunity to witness! She then asked if she bid the $10.75 she had if she could throw her pie at me. Um…sure!
God also taught me a valuable lesson once again in this annual “chuck a pie at the pastor” Sunday. My congregation respects me very much and shows me love in lots of ways. They are very respectful and loving, but because of my status as the pastor and the fact that I am the Bible nerd expert on Jesus I can be a little intimidating at times. Having experiences like this that remind everyone that I am just one of the members in our church is very helpful to our body. Sure I have a particular spiritual gift and am called by God to shepherd the flock, but that is no reason to be a stick in the mud. A shepherd needs to know the needs of his flock, and today my flock needed a good laugh and some wholesome fun in covering their shepherd in lemon meringue and whipped cream.
Maybe you’re not the extrovert that I am, and the Scripture and the Spirit are more significant aspects of your spiritual life than the Saints are. Even if that is the case, don’t neglect the people of God in your life. You need those people to encourage you to live for Christ and to be there for you, just like the author of Hebrews says in Hebrews 10:23-25:
23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful;
24 and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds,
25 not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.
Build the authentic, transparent, and sometimes goofy community of Christ around you. Trust me, having those friendships and support will be the difference between making it and falling when life gets tough. Got it? Go!