Let me explain, as a sinful human I need the gospel. Understanding the concept of justice was integral to my faith; I believed that I was guilty of wrongdoing and deserving of punishment. When I heard the message of the gospel, God gave me the ability to hear and respond to it by faith. I was saved.
Since that time, I have far too often believed, or at least acted as if I believed, that I no longer needed God's grace or that my faith in God was being exercised sufficiently for my growth in the faith.
I am learning to approach each day with an attitude of dependence, trust and desperation; much as I sensed at the time of my conversion. Maybe it's North America, or this age, or something else, but I have a growing realization that certain periods of my life have been marked with a very sinful kind of piety; all done with good intentions, but centered not in the person of Jesus but in myself.
I see this in churches too. I am most troubled by those which do not seem willing or able to discuss it. On this topic, read what was penned by Jim Cymbala (Brooklyn Tabernacle):
"As someone who’s spent more than 25 years pastoring a church, I have seen many new believers repeatedly make futile attempts at victorious living in their own strength. But as they mature spiritually, they start to see their need for divine assistance and are driven to a deeper prayer life. Unfortunately, when it comes to evangelistic outreach, we often overlook this discipline. We discount the truth that for us to be effective in our efforts to expand Christ’s kingdom on earth, the Holy Spirit’s power must be our source. Do we really believe that God can bring anyone to Himself? "
What, then, marks a healthy church? Its people are committed to pray. Seeing the work of God in others AND experiencing it first hand, they possess a faith in God that is much like that they possessed when they were born again. They pray.
May we come to the end of ourselves today and trust fully in You and Your grace. Amen.