At the age of fourteen I turned to my best friend during one of our Sunday school classes and said, “There has to be more to God than this.” She agreed. We'd been Christians since we were five years old and it seemed we'd reached the plateau of learning about Jesus. Over and over we'd heard about how to receive the Lord and that we needed to live good Christian lives, but we had a hunger for more than we were receiving.
After high school I went to a Christian college with the hope of having my hunger satisfied. The college prided itself on forming “scholar servants” who would dedicate their lives to serving the Lord in their scholarship and future professions, and it provided an atmosphere of preservation and congeniality. I had chapel meetings four days a week, a Bible study and prayer time with my floor mates in the dorm, and was constantly surrounded by fellow Christians. In addition, I had personal prayer time and Bible reading and attended meetings on Sundays. Yet, I still was not satisfied.
Ten years after my original questioning in Sunday school class I finally met some people who showed me how my hunger could be abated. They introduced me to items in the Bible which I had previously read but had not noticed. They shared verses such as 1 Thessalonians 5:23 which helped me to realize my being had three parts: spirit, soul, and body. I had thought that spirit and soul were synonymous but upon seeing Hebrews 4:12 I realized that the two were distinct. They also shared some of the more than 80 references to calling on the name of the Lord Jesus that there are in the Bible. I'd read the Bible through several times, but had never noticed such a practice. I was also exposed to Scripture regarding the universal church (such as Matthew 16:18) and the local churches (including Matthew 18:15-22 and Revelation 1:4) which helped me to understand God's view of His church. Additionally, I saw passages on the Body of Christ and the function of the members that helped me to realize my responsibilities in the Body (Romans 12; Ephesians 4:11-16).
When I first started meeting with the believers meeting as the local church such scriptural practices and views were new to me and at times I felt uncomfortable. Nevertheless I knew the safe way was to check everything with the Bible. Consequently, I examined all unfamiliar phraseology, literature and practices to determine if the local church veered from the Word in its teaching. As I was examining the scriptures about these practices I felt no pressure to conform to what everyone else was practicing. I was shown these matters in the Word and how to practice them but was not forced to do so. Over that period of several months my fellow believers simply embraced me and let me be before the Lord about these matters.
Over time I came to see that the phraseology, literature and practices of those in the local church were indeed scriptural--more scriptural than any I'd encountered elsewhere in my Christian experience. I became comfortable with what I saw in the church and soon I was touching the Lord more deeply and more consistently than I had in my previous twenty years of being a Christian.
Hallelujah! After a decade of searching I found a place which directs me to God and which continually satisfies my hunger for the Lord Jesus--the local church.