In the second of our series ‘Connections‘, we looked at drawing near to God and how to maintain our connection to God – and found that in doing this, we’ll also maintain our connections with other people too! Often, we may feel this task is too difficult for us, but as Moses reminded the people of Israel, ‘what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach.’ (Deut 30:11) God has promised that if we draw near to Him, He will draw near to us (James 4:8) and we are urged to work out our salvation with fear and trembling whilst acknowledging that it’s God who’s working in us! (Phil 2:12-13)
To maintain that clean, sin-free connection with God, we need to devote ourselves, as the early church did, to fellowship, prayer, the apostles’ teaching and the breaking of bread. (Acts 2:42-47)
Our connection to God is both personal and corporate. We can’t do without each other (see Heb 10:24-25) and need to love each as evidence of our love for God (see Matt 22:27-30, 1 Pet 4:8) Other people sharpen us (Prov 27:17) and we need the variety and diversity of others to help us understand God correctly. Often, we want to run away from God and run away from each other (especially when we hurt and wound each other), but God wants us to stick at it!
Prayer too has a personal and corporate element, with private prayer encouraged (Matt 6:6) and corporate prayer a necessary part of the Christian life (Col 4:2). Prayer is the most effective way of keeping those communication channels with God open, and the more we pray, the less likely are we to feel disconnected from God. There is great power in praying together – join with us to pray this Thursday at 7.30 p.m. if you can.
The Apostles’ Teaching
We need to be rooted in God’s word if we are to remain connected to Him – and to know how to relate to Him and to people. The ‘Holy Scriptures… are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.’ (2 Tim 3:15) Reading the Bible needs to be regular and personal, but it is not always easy; there is much in it we will struggle to understand. That’s partly why we also need corporate reading and Bible study, so that those with the gift of teaching and preaching can open up God’s word to us. The psalmist tells us that ‘the unfolding of Your words gives light.’ (Ps 119:130) The Message version translates this verse this way: ‘Break open your words, let the light shine out, let ordinary people see the meaning.’ The Bible is a bit like a concertina book: it keeps expanding to give us daily insight into how to live; it’s a living word. (Heb 4:12)
The Breaking of Bread
The simple act of receiving the bread and wine in remembrance of Christ’s death for us anchors us to the centrality of the gospel in a way nothing else can. (1 Cor 11:23-26) To maintain that clean, uncorroded connection to God, we have to align ourselves with life as God sees it. This means a constant re-alignment for each one of us. We start life believing we’re the centre of the universe. When we are saved, we realise that God is the centre of the universe. Col 1:17 says Jesus ‘is before all things, and in him all things hold together.’ Yet day by day, there is the creeping tendency to push Jesus off His throne and put ourselves back on it. The breaking of bread prevents this from happening. It keeps us tethered to the truth; it keeps us mindful of what is really important in life, how ‘the cross stands above it all.’ (‘The Cross Stands’, Ben Cantelon & Tim Hughes)
If we keep these four elements central to our lives, we will draw near to God and maintain a healthy connection to Him and to others.