When I take “the list” to the grocery store, I work the store right to left, grab the items, and go straight to the self-checkout, where there is never a line. I scan, I bag, I pay, I’m out.
I don’t deal with the “convenience” of the checker. I’m not dependent on their expertise with the scanner, because I have my own, thank you very much. I don’t have to wonder about the accuracy of their fruit scale, because I’m weighing it myself. I don’t have to wait on the guy to bag or hope they don’t crush the eggs or the bread, because I’m bagging my own stuff.
When I was young in my faith, I felt like my spiritual experiences had to happen inside the church. I believed my own insights were wrong and I had to depend on a pastor and teachers for all my spiritual food. I needed someone else’s take on what Romans 2 or Matthew 5 or Isaiah 54 was saying to me, because, after all, what did I know about the Bible? And if a friend wanted to know about Christ, I needed to make an appointment for them with a minister, so they could hear the Gospel correctly and “get it right.”
I had to be sure someone competent who knew far more than me “scanned my food” before it could be taken home and consumed.
But as I grew, God challenged me to take what I believed at the time were risks, but were actually just steps to maturity. I started studying the passage myself to see what I thought Paul was saying. I decided I needed to pray for that person myself. I was going to share the Gospel myself in my own way. And, the real jump-off-the-cliff moment, actually teach people from my own walk with the Lord and from my own Bible study.
Now—we all must learn from those who are more mature and have more experience from the Lord than we do. A disciple of Jesus has to stay teachable. But—I’m not talking about being a self-contained Christian; I’m talking about being a self-service Christian. One who talks to God himself, hears God for himself, studies to “show himself approved,” and can share his testimony anytime with anyone.
Is your own growth reliant on a certain person or a certain location or a certain circumstance for you to know God? Christ allows direct access to all of Him, His entire library is yours, His arsenal of wisdom is at your beck and call. No one has to scan your spiritual food for you, bag it, and hand it to you. You have all you need to have your own relationship with Him.
Be careful what you rely on, lean on, or whose word and ways might become more important than the Lord Himself speaking to you. Because when your time comes, no one is going to help you carry your bags to your car … it’s just going to be you and Him. No one will hold the door open to Heaven but Jesus.
Notice in Matthew 25, there is no pastor or other believer to blame for what did not happen in our lives.
Faith is best learned in the self-checkout line. God has given you your own scanner and access to His entire store.
“Then those ‘goats’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or homeless or shivering or sick or in prison and didn’t help?’ “He will answer them, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you failed to do one of these things to someone who was being overlooked or ignored, that was me—you failed to do it to me.’ “Then those ‘goats’ will be herded to their eternal doom, but the ‘sheep’ to their eternal reward.” —Matthew 25:44-46 MSG