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I’m just finishing my third breakfast this morning. Lot’s of great discussions with good brothers. Three men from three different churches. Like all families, churches have their idiosyncrasies, their challenges, their problems, their growing pains. But each conversation ended up at a common observation about what is needed for healthy church life.

It has to do with what we privilege. Spiritual health is rooted in what is foundational, what is considered essential. And the challenges and troubles we were discussing all seem to be related to one common root: An “under-privileging” of the Word of God.

Paul spoke of the growth of the community of faith in Colossae, writing of their new life of faith. That faith came through “the word of truth, the Gospel which has come to you, just as in all the world also it is constantly bearing fruit and increasing” (Colossians 1:5-6). It is the Gospel, the word of truth, that causes our new life and brings fruitfulness.

Jesus said, “If you continue in my word, then you are truly disciples of mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free” (John 8:31-32). It is Jesus’ words, the truth, that brings us into the freedom that we long for.

Paul encourages a co-worker who is laboring to see communities of faith well-established, writing about the role of Scripture in our lives. “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). It is the truth of Scripture, the words God inspired, that provide all that is needed for healthy spiritual growth.

The early church gave themselves to the apostles’ teaching (Acts 2:42). The leaders of the church that began in Jerusalem gave themselves to the ministry of the Word (Acts 6:4). When speaking of the challenges that the elders of the church in Ephesus were going to face, Paul commended them “to God and the Word of his grace, which is able to build you up” (Acts 20:32). Elders were called to know and teach the truth of the Scriptures (1 Timothy 3:3; Titus 1:9).

The life of the community of faith was healthy to the degree they privileged the Word of God. When the community of faith lived “under the Word” –in contrast to living out good ideas, working for pragmatic goals, or prioritizing people’s¬†opinions–the community grew in healthy ways. When the Word of God was not privileged . . . well, let’s just say that it wasn’t going to be a pretty picture!

We came to a common pursuit–these brothers and I–in our similar conversations. We long to embrace as our priority what matters most. We are giving ourselves to privileging the Word of God in our lives and ministries.

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