So anyway a good friend called me this afternoon to discuss a dilemma I'd actually forgotten I had. I've been active in two churches during my time in Knoxville and both times I ended up regularly singing and/or playing an instrument in the worship service(s). It's great because my musical talents were given to me by God and using them in worship seems appropriate...
Enter the economy. Living in these difficult times and being self-employed, I've been trying to figure out how to make ends meet. I got to the point where I said to myself Hey, music is my gift but it's also my livelihood. I get compensated for performing everywhere--except at church. It seems kind of wrong to say "Hey, church--I need money to use my God-given gift here." It's something I've struggled with in recent months.
But there's an even bigger issue--my lack of connection to the body of Christ (aka the church). I end up getting so involved in the musical aspect of my church homes that I don't really get to know anyone outside of that ministry. If you're not in the choir or praise band, chances are I don't know you very well. And I don't even really know the musicians I interact with on Sundays. I chat with them in rehearsal and form mostly superficial friendships, only occasionally scratching the surface to get to a deeper connection.
I believe that God made us to be social creatures. That doesn't mean that every person is outgoing, the life of the party, or anything like that. But he made us to be friends and to be there for one another. Just look at the book of Acts (one of my favorite books of the Bible). People were active in each other's lives--not like nosey, gossipy neighbors but supportive and helpful friends to those in need. The second chapter tells us:
All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. (Acts 2:44-47, NIV)
They shared with anyone who had need and they spent time together, eating and worshiping and just sharing their lives. No wonder more people were being saved--I'm sure others were thinking "Okay, what are they doing that I'm not? They must be doing something right. I need to know more."
I'm missing that community--that fellowship--and my friend helped me realize that today. He said that I'd been on his heart and I know that God put me there. I'm thankful that he did. He (my friend) wasn't even sure if his concerns were accurate, but as I told him on the phone, he hit the nail on the head. I need to plug in to a church home and get involved, whether it's at my current church or a new one. Not just for myself, of course, but in order to make the world a better place you often have to start with yourself, right?