Before God called me, going to church was not an option for me. I mocked God and His church. I felt religion was a crutch for losers who needed a life. This was my understanding because I was ignorant. This is why Jesus prayed for the Father to forgive them, because they don't know what they are doing.
After my calling, the only confidence I had in going to church was that I had read the entire Bible, but with open eyes and ears. I did not have the human luxury of friends and family joining with me to assist in my confidence. God had written all I had read onto the tablets of my heart. So I went to church with true (though not complete) understanding and full confidence in what I had read. What I witnessed through the years was a lot of church goers without a clue as to how they should live, according to what they claimed as their faith. Having a form of Godliness, but denying the power thereof. I was amazed at how dead the church is. An intimate knowledge of their savior was absent.
When I would engage others in fellowship with the Lord, I would get three different responses. Indignation, from those who would not admit they were void of a relationship with Him; joy from the Spirit filled believer; and amazement, from those that recognized intimacy was possible. For the sake of enduring, God had placed me among the latter at first.
Another struggle I dealt with was how my humanity continues throughout my walk. Those who are indignant toward me are quick to point this out, though sometimes not with actual words. Those who actively pursue their higher calling understand this dilemma and are humbled by the presence of their own humanity.
Fellowship doesn't belong to people who gather on Sunday morning or other church functions and catch up on their life's latest news and accomplishments. These are merely acquaintances. True fellowship exists between the children of God who realize His Holy Spirit that resides in a wretched body. What a ludicrous combination! But children of the light can't help but to glorify God and praise the risen Lord, in spite of this imperfect vessel we trod the path in, and this to the indignation of the devil. Within or without the body of Christ, we are human. The difference is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus himself tells us that the Father will lavish us with his Spirit if we would but ask. Sounds simple enough, but if that is indeed the promise, I venture to conclude not many are asking. Like the weeds, life's cares tend to choke out His word. I find the biggest fear in praying for His Spirit is the realization of having to give ourselves up to gain Him. May I encourage you, nothing will be taken from you. Only when He has shown you the pitiful condition of the here and now compared to the eternity to come, you discover you actually give up nothing, but gain all.
Practicing simple obedience (Jesus said, "If you love me, you will obey my commands."), gives your faith a foundation for God to build on. It is important not to look too far down your path...this only leads to assumptions and unfounded fears of what's to come. As a child grows into an adult, the process is undetectable on a daily basis. Maturity appears gradually. Only looking back on the road we traveled do we understand fully, as we are fully understood. Thus, faith has its exercise as we focus on taking only the next step with unwavering commitment.
As we begin to lean, not on our own understanding, but acknowledging Him in all our ways, we begin to put away our old selves, and He creates the new, by the power of the Holy Spirit He gives as we call upon Him. Accepting that it is not by our own strength, but by His Spirit, we are then able to humble ourselves to the knowledge of who we really are; fallen humanity saved not of our own devices...it is the gift of God.
"Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own." (Philippians 3:12)