The Family, part 3!
1st of October
This time I want to write about the big family, The Church, both the local and the global. We are not created to live alone, but to function in connection with others, both spiritually and in the secular world. Quite a few people have become so wounded or experienced such encroachments that they fear to start new relationships. They want to isolate themselves. This is also one of the reasons why some people hesitate to enter a local church. These people will often be criticized for being spiritual vagabonds or for avoiding any commitments, maybe for being even lazy. In some cases this might be true, but many might have a bad experience either from his or her biological family or the spiritual one. One might need to forgive and be healed before one enters into a new relationship. I know a lot about these things and I want pastors and wounded people to read about it. The pastors need to look at the Good Shepard and follow His example and the wounded ones need to ask for help and avoid becoming bitter. The Bible says that the Holy Spirit will help us to forgive no matter how many times we have to do it. We might need some time to be healed, but do not allow that time to stretch too long.
We can go to Matt.16. Here Peter confesses that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. Jesus answered and said to him: “You are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. Jesus gives both spiritual power and authority to the Church. We read in verse 19: “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” The Church has power as well as being a home. I will come back to that. This world would lay in darkness without the Church. It should be like a tower of light, shining clearly. The church should be the opposite of the kingdom of the devil. An active church will often be criticized by the secular media and by secular people. The Holy Spirit should convince people of sin and grace and this is also one of the tasks of the Church. It should point a finger on the sin and the things in the society that are contrary to the Word of God. It is rather obvious that the people who are sinning do not like this and we need a lot of love and wisdom in order to do this right. God hates sin, but loves the sinner and we have to do likewise. It might be difficult to find the balance between the hate for sin and the love for people.
Most people like good deeds and the church will get favor if the world can see its good deeds. We will find quite a lot of fine humanitarian work, but we will often see that Christians have started schools, orphanages and hospitals around the world. There are many churches and organizations that help people all over the world with water supply, free medical care, food, clothing and other projects. Sometimes they give money and other times they use their knowledge in order to make people self-supporting. A church should be both light and salt, but it will often become one or the other. A few congregations look upon themselves primarily as critics of the society and forget the love and mercy for people. Others become so full of mercy that they forget that Jesus came to save sinners. The Gospel must always be preached. It is not so easy to preach to a starving congregation. Maybe food must be delivered before the Gospel. Jesus must always be presented as a Person Who Cares. I do not want to get acquainted with a person who doesn’t seriously cares for me and all my needs.
What happened in Acts when a person got saved? In Acts 2:47 we read that the Lord added daily to the church those who were being saved. We read another place in the Bible that we first should give ourselves to Christ and then to the church. There should be no doubt: We should belong to a local church. You are a child of God if you have received Jesus as your person Savior and you belong to the Body of Christ, but you are not in God’s perfect will. I know quite a few people who just now are seeking for guidance and are praying: “Which church God? Where do you want me?” I am not writing to you. You know that God wants you to belong and function within a local church. Remember that you will never find a perfect one since every church are full of members like you and me, sinners that saved by grace.
The church is often compared to a body. We can read in Eph.1:22+23 “And He(God) put all things under His(Christ) feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all. Christ is the head of the church and we the children of God are the members of the Body. We all have to find out which member we are and then we must function as that member. A foot cannot be a mouth. Both 1.Cor.12 and Rom.12 speak about the different functions of the members and the different gifts of the Spirit. The local pastor should give room and encourage each member to practice his or her gifts. Some churches put up limitations. You might be too young or too old or be of the wrong sex, a female. I believe strongly in Gal.3:28. It says that there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for we are all one in Christ Jesus. I therefore believe that a man and woman can have the same gifts of the Spirit. Maybe we should have a little different areas of responsibility, but I have too little revelation on this.
The gifts should be encouraged in the local church, but this is also where we should be met with love and compassion. Real love will consist of both encouragement and exhortation. The purpose is to become more like Jesus. He says in John 13:34+35 “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” This is unfortunately not the norm in a local church. How does the Shepard function? If it is a big congregation, the pastor cannot see every member, but the structure of the church should be made in a way that somebody always had the responsibility to see a certain amount of people. One way is to have many cell-groups. They should function as a small family. The leader of the cell should be an open and confident person in order to create an open and secure atmosphere. He should encourage everyone to use the gifts of the Spirit. If one person is sick or weak, the others should lift him or her up. I have heard many say that they attend a cell-group out of duty and not out of a desire. Then something is wrong. Some people feel controlled or condemned. That is not the mind of Christ. When Christ points at sin in my life, it creates a sense of freedom and no judgment. It might be a little unpleasant in the beginning, but I feel the love of God. He is gracious. Are we gracious toward each other? If we have not experienced grace, we might become hardhearted. If we as Christians do not love each other, the world will not be saved. We might as well forget praying for revival. They must see that we function together. I would not enter into something that smells of dissension and strife. Do we want to be known for that?
MAY GOD HELP US IN BUILDING LOVING RELATIONSHIPS WITHIN THE LOCAL CHURCH AND LET THE CHURCH BECOME OUR SPIRITUAL HOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!