“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 one, simple verse 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 weekend attendance.
A few days ago, my daughter and I did a little gardening work. Part of this work involved transplanting some herbs from small pots into larger ones. But then my daughter decided she also wanted to pull out some seeds we had stored away and grow some flowers and radishes. We brought everything into our kitchen, spread it out all over our island and went to work.
As I watched her take those tiny little seeds in her tiny little fingers and bury them into the soil, I heard this phrase echo so loudly in my heart: “Seeds are not activated until they’re planted in the soil.” I wasn’t just watching my daughter plant some seeds, I was watching her participate in their activation. And I immediately got a picture in my mind of how that same principle correlates to us making the decision to plant ourselves in the soil of our local church.
Some of those packets of seeds we’ve had in our kitchen drawer for, honestly, a couple of years. They’ve been sitting there this whole time. But while they remained in their packet, they remained seeds. The shell surrounding them contained all the DNA and potential for them to grow into what they were designed to grow into. But it would never happen until we planted those seeds in soil and the process began of cracking that outer shell and germination began.
I can attest to the fact that in the 18 years I’ve walked with God, living in Him and following Him through three different states, nothing has had the power to release the potential within me and within our family like planting myself/ourselves in church. It is by divine design that God has ordained it this way. We were designed to live and thrive in the context of community. Yes, we can move forward in what He’s called us to while disconnected from The Church. We may even see fruit from it. But the volume of fruit and the satisfaction we experience will pale in comparison to what is possible from the nourishment our “seeds” would receive from being planted in the soil of His house.
So what does it look like, what does it mean to be “planted”? Living by this principle basically comes down to this question: Will we conduct our world in a way that is peripheral to the church, or will the church be peripheral to our world? What’s at the center? What is a priority to us? Are we committed to the health, growth, and vitality of our local church? Do the use of our time, talents and resources speak to our commitment? Is church just something we “do” or is it something we take ownership of and actively participate in and find ways we can contribute? Is our thought process consumer-based? Do we jump ship, pull out or lose interest when something’s not to our particular liking? We’ve got to let go of that kind of thinking and honor The Church for what God created her to be.
“to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in heavenly places.” Ephesians 3:10 NKJV
God’s intent was that The Church would be a display of His full and diverse wisdom, through all her colors, shades, tints, hues, and colorful expressions coming together. It is the instrument through which He has chosen to dispense throughout the earth what He has already accomplished through Jesus. And when we come together, we join as an army of kings and priests unto God, under the banner of Jesus’ name, displayed before every spiritual throne and rank of principalities, giving testimony to what God has done. In that corporate environment, we give and contribute of that which God has done in us, and we also receive nourishment, strength and encouragement from what God is doing amongst others. And lastly, we expand with the breath and love of heaven, extending our arms out to receive others into the same glorious family we are a part of.
Back to the story of our little garden. It only took a few days to start seeing the first sprouts. Seeds that had lain dormant, when activated, instinctively knew what they were supposed to do and started wiggling their way upward through the soil. It’s the same with us. I would venture to say there are manifold, multicolored gifts, talents, and even spiritual gifts we’ve yet to discover tucked away inside each and everyone of us that have yet to be realized. In the right soil, those seeds will germinate and come into existence.
“This is not the time to pull away and neglect meeting together, as some have formed the habit of doing, because we need each other! In fact, we should come together even more frequently, eager to encourage and urge each other onward as we anticipate that day dawning.” Hebrews 10:25 TPT
Activate. If you haven’t already, find the place God is calling you to. The specific eco-system He has for you (and your family) to be a part of. No, there’s no “perfect” church. But there is a perfect, glorious plan God has for her, and for us as we steward this beautiful gift together. Forsake any consumer-type thinking and instead adopt the attitude of ownership and honor. Participate. Contribute. Plant yourself and watch what happens.
Thanks for reading,
Linda G. Riddle