By Luke Walters
Psalm 23:1-2 "(1) The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. (2) He maketh me to lie down in green pastures; he leadeth me beside the still waters."
Have you ever heard the cliché "the grass is always greener on the other side?" It is a phrase to describe how other circumstances seem more desirable than one’s own, but in reality are often not. This phrase can apply to church life too. There are some people who adhere to the possibility of things being different or better in another local church. I thought it would be a God idea to share some of our experiences and revelation on the blessings of loyalty and faithfulness to where we worship in the local congregation.
By the grace of God my family and I have been in the same local church with the same pastor for 30 years. Wow, what a life, what a blessing, what trials and what a journey! Over the years we have seen hundreds come and go for one reason or another. Some of those reasons involved God leading people on another path, but many times they were Christians who were simply tempted by “greener pastures.”
Benefits of Loyalty to Your Own Green Pasture
- Something powerful happens when God's people come together with one mind and one accord for worship (Acts 2:1-4). We encounter the presence of God! God's great joy is for His presence to grace His people. He is a holy God and there is none like Him!
Psalm 22:3 "But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel."
- Breakthroughs happen when we stay where God wants us to be. Over the years God has come down and touched our hearts, melting away the hardness of sin and cares of this world to bring us closer to Him. Today it is a good thing to give thanks for a good Holy Spirit filled church!
- There is protection from the enemy when we can know and trust our church family. The Lord carefully watches over the gathering of people.
Watch Out for Counterfeits
Religion, apart from a relationship with God, is a counterfeit of the true Church. Human religion happens when self-righteous men and women attempt to control the hearts of people. Human religion may look like church, but it lacks the life of God. These counterfeit religious ideas are prevalent throughout the world. This has been one of the enemy's attacks on the local church and her leaders. Because religion has betrayed the trust of people, many believers have been tempted with the "grass is always greener" syndrome.
Many of these counterfeits have built beautiful religious buildings. On the outside they are spectacular, but on the inside they lack the presence and the power of God. Jesus spoke of a temple not made with hands and His Holy Spirit abiding in the spirit of man. Real church happens when believers get together to worship from their hearts.
Watch Out for Complaining
We want to be sheep that are committed to where the Lord has put us, not to complain about our shepherd or our pasture. It seems like many have excuses to look away from where God has planted us to other pastures where the grass seems greener. The crossroad of temptation is learning to discern God’s best for our lives without complaining or comparing our church to other churches. I have been tempted to complain too. Thank God for them gray-headed sheep, the mature believers, who kept me steady and faithful when my focus was on myself.
The Loyalty of Covenant Relationships
Let’s take a look at the scripture in what the Bible reflects on the subject of loyalty. The story of Jonathan’s relationship with David has always been a benchmark of blessing and a key to developing relationships. Jonathan was David’s friend, period. Nothing could untie the loyalty knot that bound these two men together. These two were of the same heart. They were men of battle, strong in spirit and courageously zealous for the nation and Jehovah.
I Samuel 18:1 “And it came to pass, when he had made an end of speaking unto Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.”
They loved each other and made a solemn oath of covenant between themselves. From this point on they were back to back, welded together a loyalty factor that even blood kin could not separate. A level of loyalty that God begins to show us can be obtained with special people He brings into your life.
I remember the first loyal friends I ever had. We were inseparable, not just from spending times hunting and fishing; but our lives were intertwined together to forge such a deep relationship that brought glory to the name of Jesus.
I Samuel 18:3 “Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul.”
Jesus also gives us this same example as He called us His “friends” and laid the foundation for loyalty to each other with the common bond, His blood, our tribe, nation, family.
John 15:12-15 “(12) This is My commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved you. (13) Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. (14) Ye are My friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. (15) Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of My Father I have made known unto you.”
But the Lord wants us to have that same level of loyalty as leaders of His bride. God wants us to develop loyal friends that have a “minute man” attitude to drop everything at a moment’s notice to respond to each other’s needs. We stand unified in an unspoken bond of what is mine is yours and what is yours in mine, together in this cause of brining Jesus to a fallen world. We live as this world is not our home, ready to lay it on the line for our brothers and sisters. This is a lifestyle that is holy and acceptable to Him who died for us.
Don’t Get Uprooted
Here is a great spiritual truth passed on that has sustained my life and brought a deep sense of worth to my life – are you ready for this? “Bloom where you are planted.” Make the decision to stay where God wants you and you will develop and grow!
Get over the petty offenses, go on with your life. That issue or thing that seems like a full blown hurricane is just the enemy making drama out of a non-issue. God had a big plan happening behind the scenes so don’t let the devil lie to you. His goal is to rob us of our greatest breakthrough or blessings. Steady, steady, hold the pattern, don’t let go of the rope as now is the time God is about to do His greatest work in you, your family and your local church. His joy is that you pass this test and go to a HNL (‘hole nuther level).
The greatest conflicts in local church seem to be usually pointed at the pastor. He gets the brunt of sheep kicks, sheep bites and sheep poop, hello! Unless your pastor is out of bounds in any of these three areas, don’t take the bait:
Wow, how things get so amplified when we are in the heat of the issues. We get so familiar with all involved and the enemy begins his tireless relentless whisper of all the familiar things we know. All the little details are blown way out of proportion trying to get us to bite and be offended. The word familiar is close to the word family as our local church is our spiritual family.
God watches closely over the local church as this body of believers is the representation of the Lord’s bride in the earth. Being a part of a vibrant life giving local church is an honor not a right. We must continue to humble ourselves and become more like Jesus with the attitude of a servant. Familiarity’s first action is to negate the blessing of being a servant. Jesus showed this example with the disciples when He washed their feet. He knew everything about each disciple. He knew all their “business” yet He did not organize them into familiar categories of status quo, financial status, education, etc. Wow, what a temptation as we grow closer to people and familiarize ourselves with each other’s lives to compartmentalize each other and start down this road of familiarity.
The quickest way to avoid this trap of familiarity is to forgive and to give grace. True forgiveness means true repentance; thus, true repentance means a reversal of attitude and action. Once we get our hearts right from self-seeking and centered direction, which is the root of familiarity by the way, it becomes a joy again to serve. Jesus took the towel in John 13 and washed the disciples’ feet with joy! Knowing all about them, their attitudes, competitiveness, and all around worldly thinking. Yet He forgave them, took up the towel of loyalty and forgiveness to show real kingdom living.
So now you may be in the heat of the moment with a familiar issue with your somebody! God put the local church as a place designed as a place to grow in spiritual maturity. As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend. Proverbs 27:17. God is doing a big work in our lives constantly perfecting (maturing) us. So give the issue some time, some more prayer and check your heart because the enemy is testing the waters of your soul to look for greener pastures. Remain faithful and loyal for the rewards are out of this world!
Psalm 23:2 “He maketh me to lie down in green pastures; He leadeth me beside the still waters.”
 Psalm 1:5; Acts 20:29