Finding Your Place: Embracing God’s Love, Overcoming Obstacles, and Serving with Humility

21 Jul, 2023

CityLight NYC Embracing God Love Overcoming Obstacles and Serving with Humility

(Guest Contributor Pastor James Chavez)

Can you remember a time when you felt like an outsider? Yeah, at one point, we probably felt like we were on the outside looking in.

I immediately get transported back to fourth grade in the schoolyard when they pick kickball teams. You’ve got the team captains, and they’re choosing from the best to the worst in descending order, right? And I don’t know if you were like me, but I was never the first to be picked.

The outside looking in is painful. I could keep talking about scenario after scenario, but it’s too traumatic. This is not me working out my issues. I’m here to help you.

But maybe, just maybe, there is a point in your life when you walk into a dinner party or a crowded church service, and someone starts waving at you from the door, “Hey, over here! I saved you a seat!” And you suddenly feel like you’re on the inside. You’re not on the outside anymore. Someone cares enough to think about you and save you a spot. You’re valued. That feels good.

That’s what it’s like to be on the inside.

You experience that when you find a church where you are loved and accepted.

But, if you still feel sometimes like you’re on the outside, I’m going to share with you three things you can do to cross the threshold and be on the inside.

And to make it easy to remember, I will share an acronym, B-I-G.

B – Be There

There are just some things that God chooses to do when you gather with other Christ followers that he doesn’t do anywhere else. It’s a sacred thing. That’s why the Bible says don’t forsake the gathering together.

In our fast-paced world, we often allow various things to hinder our commitment to gathering together as believers. We make excuses, saying we can focus on the spirit of the law rather than the letter, and convince ourselves that attending church every week is unnecessary. But when we miss out on coming together, we fail to experience something extraordinary.

Think about a football game. We expect the team to huddle before each play. It’s vital to the game, even though we don’t watch for the huddles. Similarly, the world recognizes that we gather in church buildings on Sundays for our huddle. However, what truly matters is whether we live out and execute what we discuss during our time together when we’re out in the world.

Sure, some obstacles stand in our way. Commuting challenges, the lure of convenience, and even past hurts within the church community can discourage us. But despite these obstacles, when we make an effort to be present, we discover a unique and transformative experience.

We encounter fellow believers who have fought similar battles to be there, and their warm greetings, handshakes, and smiles remind us why it’s worth it.

Remember, this gathering is not just about being part of a team or an institution. It’s about being part of a spiritual family. Here, you are seen not as the world sees you but as God sees you—a justified child of the King. It’s a perspective you won’t find anywhere else.

So, fight against the enemy’s attempts to keep you away. Kick down those obstacles and choose to be there because God’s people, purpose, and power converge in that place. Take advantage of the incredible blessings that await you when you gather with your fellow believers.

I – Involved

Now we’re stepping it up. Be there; that was obvious. But now I have to get involved.

And that’s easier said than done once again, right?

Sometimes, we focus on ourselves, thinking about our tiredness, hunger, and desires. It becomes an “all about me” mindset, prioritizing our needs above everything else.

But we need to shift our perspective when it comes to being part of a community.

I grew up being dragged to church all the time. It was a routine, a habit, and I eventually broke free from it. Now, I come to church when I feel like it, which is quite often because I genuinely enjoy it.

However, I’ve realized that being involved requires overcoming another problem—the “eye problem.” It’s not a physical issue but rather a self-centeredness that hinders us from serving others.

God calls us to have a third-person perspective, to see beyond ourselves, and meet the needs of those around us. Jesus exemplified this by washing the disciples’ feet during the Passover supper. He set an example of humble service, showing us that we are called to serve others.

Serving others means getting engaged and involved instead of just being passive spectators. It’s about being present, participating, and making a difference in the Kingdom of God. God’s dream is for us to be a community that fights over who gets to serve, not who gets to be served. It requires us to let go of our pride and ego, realizing that we all have valuable contributions to make.

Don’t miss out on the chance to break the cycle of loneliness by actively participating in the community that God has designed for us.

G – Giving

Sometimes, people want just enough of Jesus to secure their place in heaven and ensure they won’t go to hell. They seek a comfortable life and a safety net. However, they struggle to trust Jesus to transform their behaviors and finances.

It’s puzzling how we can believe in a Savior we’ve never met and trust Him with our eternal destiny but struggle to believe He can make 90% of our income stretch further than 100%.

Many people find it challenging to accept the concept of tithing, starting with 10% of their income as a baseline for a generous life. They worry about financial difficulties and cling to their money instead of fully trusting God. But God calls us to acknowledge His lordship over our finances by giving Him the first portion, not the leftovers or scraps.

It’s not about giving a tip; it’s about recognizing who’s truly in charge.

Often, people justify their reluctance to tithe by claiming they can’t afford it. They fear eviction, repossession, or other dire consequences. However, as a pastor who faces financial obligations, too, I understand the importance of managing money wisely while being a conduit of blessing.

Giving isn’t about earning God’s favor or accumulating rewards in heaven. It’s about expressing gratitude for all God has done for us and acknowledging His lordship over our lives.

We must align all the wires of our lives—being present, getting involved, practicing generosity, and financial obedience—so that God’s power can flow through us without interruption. It’s not a magical formula but a way of living that honors God.

When we withhold obedience in one area, we hinder blessings in all aspects of our lives. We don’t give to receive, but giving opens us up to receive blessings from God.
Our works don’t save us; we were saved for good works. Money given to the church doesn’t earn salvation or make us better than others. However, when we reflect on our lives before knowing Jesus, we should be overwhelmed with gratitude. Our giving should stem from a heart overflowing with thankfulness. Let’s not worship money or cling to it but surrender it to God and allow Him to work through us.

I challenge you to reevaluate your commitment to attendance, service, generosity, and financial obedience. Imagine the impact we could have if we all dialed up our dedication. Let’s commit to showing up, getting involved, giving sacrificially, and trusting God with our finances.

Together, we can unleash the power of God in our lives and make a profound difference in our communities. We underestimate what God can do through us when we fully surrender to Him.

The greatest fulfillment comes when we get the focus off ourselves long enough to meet other people’s needs. That’s the way God wired us. Take advantage of that blessing.


Father, we thank you for your love and sending your Son as our example. As we search our hearts, reveal anything that hinders our priorities. Give us the strength to let go of distractions, sin, and pride, and surround us with supportive people who will hold us accountable. We are grateful for the community you’ve given us, and we embrace our identity as your children with purpose. Show us the next step, and grant us the courage and confidence to take it. We love you deeply, and we pray in the name of Jesus.

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