“The church, you see, is not peripheral to the world; the world is peripheral to the church…” Ephesians 1:23 MSG
Several years ago, this verse helped changed my perspective about church. Growing up, I’d always heard about the importance of going “to” church, but never about being planted “in” church. Little did I know, there is a difference. And it’s about much more than being faithful in weekend attendance; it requires a shift in how we view church.
Living by this principle basically comes down to this question: Will you conduct your world (your family, job, relationships, opportunities, etc.) in a way that is peripheral to the church, or will the church be peripheral to your world? Right now, whether you realize it or not, you view church in one of those two ways. And I can assure you, how you answer this question has the potential to change everything; and it can be the key to releasing a unique degree of blessing on your life. Your commitment to plant is not proven in how much you’re involved; it’s a decision of the heart to not be moved.
My husband and I have been planted in Celebration Church for nine years. In those nine years, there have been about a dozen favorable opportunities that have come our way. Each one of them have tugged at different parts of our root system – including our finances, relationships, career paths, our callings and even our personal preferences. But we’ve turned every one of them down. Honestly, some of them were incredibly hard to pass up; others were a little easier to say no to. But after prayerful consideration, we just know God has called us here, and those opportunities – while good – would have required us to uproot in some form or another from where He has called us, and that, we are simply not willing to do.
As a result, our roots have had a chance to go deep; and with each passing year, our lives expand, and we grow stronger. Now, our kids are walking on the strong foundation we’ve laid. And God has brought things into our lives we could have never imagined for ourselves or conjured up on a well-crafted 5-year plan. Our journey has been one of excitement, adventure, and rich blessing, and the vehicle by which those things have traveled into our lives is the church. With God and His church at our center, we lead our lives and our family with a firm trust in who He is, and an unwavering faithfulness to where He has called us. Yes, that has meant passing up opportunities other people would work their whole lives for, but you know what? So be it. I wouldn’t trade what we have for anything in the world.
You know, it’s funny, some of the most visible evidences of strength and growth in our lives is not just in the opportunities we are given; it’s in the ones we’ve had the courage to turn down. The problem is, many people are more loyal to their opportunities than they are to the place God has called them. Yes, church is important. But they don’t really see it as the center from which everything else flows. From the outside, they may appear to be planted. They attend church regularly, possibly even serve. But truth be told, they’re in a pot that can easily be picked up and moved the moment a better opportunity, or more money, or the “right” relationship comes along.
My question to you is this: Do you know where God has called you, and have you planted there? Truly, planted there? This is not to say God won’t ever move you. It’s a question of what you are most loyal to. Your opportunities? Or the place He has called you to? Take it from a girl who made this decision long ago, settled it in her heart once and for all, and is now living a life marked by peace, blessing and continued growth. When the church is peripheral, our roots can’t grow deep and our growth is stunted. But when we’re planted (not potted) we flourish. (Ps92:13) It’s God’s design, and I’m living proof that it’s so true. I invite you to do the same, and I assure you, it’s one of the best decisions you’ll ever make.