Kay convinced me. I finally agreed to an annual physical exam with our internist. I had been holding out, arguing, “I’ve always been healthy, Love.” I knew deep down that she was right; how would I know if I were genuinely healthy without an exam?
Having now gone through a couple of annual exams, I can testify that they are mostly pain free, and that they are extremely helpful. I never thought that I would admit it, but to stay healthy and productive, exams are necessary.
The Bible encourages examination of self and ministry, too. In fact, to stay healthy and fruitful in gospel ministry, examinations are required.
Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves… (2 Corinthians 13:5 ESV) Let us test and examine our ways… (Lamentations 3:40 ESV) But let each one test his own work… (Galatians 6:4 ESV)
Self-examinations are essential today because God will examine (judge) all things one day in the future. On that day, we will all appear before the judgment seat of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:10), each of us will give an account of himself to God (Romans 14:10). To the churches of Revelation, God declares, “I know your works” (Revelation 1-3). To each of us, God declares, “each one’s work will become manifest” (1 Corinthians 3:13). These are sobering verses, but they are not written to instill fear; they are written to encourage our faithfulness while there is opportunity to be faithful.
Individually and collectively as a church, we must examine ourselves. Each of us, with the aid of the Holy Spirit, can examine our lives and turn, as necessary, towards the will and way of God. As a church, with the aid of the Holy Spirit, we can, and should, do the same.
After many months of self-examination, I have come to some Spirit-directed conclusions. The exam was difficult, and sometimes the introspection moved towards isolation, but the result was a deeper spiritual hunger and a deeper reach into the sufficiency of Christ, as a Christian man and Christian leader.
One Spirit led conclusion is that MeadowBrook is meant to be a culture of people “living and walking” together rather than merely “coming and going” to services and events. Such community of love and purpose is an expression of Christ in us and must be genuinely sought by all members of the church and demonstrated purposefully and fully by its leaders.
Although it is difficult for me to admit, some people attending MeadowBrook, or who have attended in the past, have found it difficult to connect. People have a desire for genuine relationships, a deep sense of belonging and to be part of a significant ministry. Such engagement cannot be successfully programmed by the church, but comes with purposeful discipling relationships of people from the church. In other words, true connection doesn’t occur simply because the doors of the church are opened; connections occur when people of the church open their lives to others.
As the Apostle Paul and Silas and Timothy taught the Thessalonians and others with word and example, so the staff and I desire to speak and live before you. If leading MeadowBrook to spiritual and relational depth requires a genuine hunger for God and people, and it does, then I pledge that we will live and lead with such purpose.
Will you join me in examining yourselves and our lives collectively as a church? Let’s purpose to love God and people, and let’s press hard into the eternal significance of genuine ministry and relationships.