Two years ago, when the beginnings of a church plant formed in my husband’s mind, it was just the thought of a church that would share truth, give grace and love others. It wasn’t until our family was driving down our city’s freeway (at rush hour) that a name for our church even crossed our minds.
“What about Thrive?” my husband leaned over slightly in his seat, his hands on the wheel, his eyes squinting slightly with that crooked half smile on his face that means he knows he onto something.
“Really?” I tried to act nonchalant about it. “I mean… just Thrive?”
But it stuck to us in a way that hasn’t gotten away from us. It was, in essence, exactly what we wanted to communicate with the community that flowed around us. When people would ask us, “Why Thrive?” our response was always to point them towards John 10:10 where Jesus was speaking to the Pharisees, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
Here’s the thing about the Pharisees. They were the “religious and pious” people of the day. People looked to them for spiritual guidance. As far as they were concerned, they did have life to the full. They were extreme and followed the Law down to the letter, but they missed the Messiah when he was standing right in front of them. They had become stagnant in their faith… and self-righteous in their lives.
When looking back at my own crazy life, I realize how stagnant and self-righteous I had become. You cannot pretend to be connected to God and still thrive. You cannot not just attend church and think that you are connecting with those you share a pew with. I had become comatose in the daily life of laundry, wiping up messes, and smoothing over emotions. In my complacency, I chose to judge others when I should have been reaching out in encouragement. I looked down upon the down-and-out, when I should have been extending a helping hand. I had gossiped and lied to my friends, when I should have been dropping to my knees asking God for help with my bitterness. I am completely guilty of all of this and more. But several years ago, Jesus opened my eyes to the life He wanted me to live. Instead of harshly pointing out my flaws, he pointed to what could be. If I chose, I could be a great friend to all; one who gives grace and aims to trust, before being suspicious. I could be someone who is actively looking for ways to show Jesus’ love for others who don’t know Him through serving them selflessly. I could give… and give… and give… of my time to mentor newly married younger women. I could stop being selfish when it came to Sunday mornings… and volunteer in the Kids’ Ministry.
When I began choosing these things (to connect with God and with those who believe in Him) I finally learned what it meant to thrive. Sure, I don’t thrive every single day… I am human and still have my messes (including my large basket of laundry I have yet to put away!!) but I am making progress. Christ has led me here.
It’s not just surviving anymore… We can begin to thrive, and live life to the full!