First I've a small story to tell of something the Lord showed to me yesterday. A lesson in observation listening to the Holy Spirit.
Some wild hungry beautiful cats, a mother and her kitten, have come around trying to find life near my home. So, I've been feeding them. Gradually, I've been drawing them closer to my home. Now I feed them in my garage. At first they would come when I clang a piece of pottery with a spoon. Now they know the time frame in which I feed them in the morning and the evening and they come to wait expectantly. When I come out to feed my cats, they look up at me and wait.
I usually sit and watch them, and watch over them while they eat. At first they were quite skittish, but I would speak in as sweet and honest a tone that I could and tell them "it's OK; everything is OK". I would assure them of my devotion and safety as much as they needed. They have become so comfortable around me (and I hope for more of our new friendship) that they sit around and groom after eating. Then they slowly saunter off to play and nap in my backyard, on the porch, under the house (house is on stilts) and where ever they want on my property. I'm becoming someone they trust. Our relationship has taken them from starvation to health though there is still a way to go.
Then the Holy Spirit began to speak to me. First He pointed out that true friendship must be built on trust. Jesus often has said to me at various times throughout my life , "Don't be afraid; everything is going to be alright". As we draw closer to Jesus as His friend and family we find life and spiritual health, spiritual vibrancy. Jesus is the One who brings true Life. In Him only can we fully trust.
Then the Holy Spirit pointed out to me that life in the Spirit is a gentle thing like the breeze that blows freshness in our face. We should seek it like the mother cat and her kitten searched for food to live and comfort to rest their little souls. Our souls need this life. Our souls need the healing comfort the Holy Spirit (known as The Comforter) brings us to be able to flourish as spiritual people. When we are afraid God will assure us of His trustworthiness and also direct our steps to show us where life is to be found. But we must seek Him and listen to Him in order to go in the way and be in the place that The Holy Spirit can minister to us. As we do this we will find health and liveliness. We will find conversation with God. We will find Truth and be comforted by it.
"John 15:11 “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and thatyour joy may be full. 12 This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. 14 You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you. 17 These things I command you, that you love one another."
As I contemplated what the Holy Spirit was saying to me, and the Scripture verses in John 15, my attention turned to the modern day Christian churches. All true believers form the spiritual Body of Christ. All churches contain a mixture of some true believers, some religious people trying to be believers, and some who are there for other reasons. As the spiritual Body of Christ, we are to be family. We are to love one another and bring life to one another. I've experienced this many times. The presence of God's love in His people freshen's our spirit. It brings relief and a sense of safety. There within that presence of God's Spirit we are released to become who we are meant to be in Christ. Our spiritual gifting is released. We have times of joy and smiles. And like the little kitten that is learning to trust me, we can bask in the sun of a safe place to live, play and do God's work. And this growth of love as friends and family needs the attention of assuring one another that we are safe with each other. Asking forgiveness, forgiving, assuring one another, being there for one another, praying for one another, helping to carry other's burdens, communicating, etc. etc., are all part of growing together as friends and as family.
But not many churches are like that. And churches change. The difference lies in the structure. The majority of churches today live in a corporate striation (parallel structures) of positions of authority and spiritual authority. When those who have gifting for ministry (spiritual authority) are leading and serving, the Body grows in love, friendship, spiritual ministry, spiritual truth, and trust. When those who have positional authority without spiritual authority are leading, other things are produced. Growth in the spirit and life in the spirit are not as present.
The spiritual activities of growing in love and truth are not easy tasks to keep doing. We must keep turning to Jesus and ask "where are you". I want to be where Jesus is. Where Jesus is not present and active is where spiritual hunger (even starvation), pain, distress, divisions and lack are. But all hope is not lost. As I am searching for where the presence of spiritual life in Christ is, I am told in Philippians 4:11-13 that I can be content in a lack and an abundance. I can survive. You see ultimately, Jesus is not found in a church. The church is just the gathering place of people who have (and sometimes don't have) Jesus in them. Jesus dwells in our heart and soul. We are the temple for the presence of God to flourish in.
"1 Corinthians 3:16 Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? 17 If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are."
Ultimately, part of loving God is to love God's people. And God's people are all over. Let's be sure to tell them "it is OK, everything will be alright. I am part of God's Living Body. You are safe here".