We have spent the last four weeks in a Series...Dedicated to giving a Biblically solid beginning to New Christians! Because even with good intentions...We often fall short of giving new believers a proper start...In their New Life with Christ!
Today we will cover one last subject...Which seems to be the biggest issue for Christians old & new...In our CURRENT culture!...And that is... "Exactly what is the Church's role?" And, "WHY is it important that I even attend?"
We have become an increasingly "recluse" society...Able to socialize, shop, play, study and work…From our own homes! Due to this trend... Along with the lingering impact of Covid...Many people legitimately question WHY...They cannot do the same thing with their FAITH!
Some people feel very confident they can learn MORE about God... And grow as a Christian... By studying at home...And/or listening to online services...Or they just don't want the hassle of dealing with...Difficult or immature people...Or the hypocrites in the church...Or they were judged or offended once at church...
So WHY put up with the frustration and trouble...When you can learn about God comfortably and peacefully…At your own home?
On the surface... All of these points are valid...And completely understandable! But now... I ask you to stop and consider this: Is your job filled with annoying and hypocritical people? Who often offend or let you down as well? Is every place you go not filled with the same? Is your own family not guilty of the same thing? Would it not be wrong to disassociate with…AN ENTIRE RACE…Because a group from that race hurt you once?
WHY ANY DIFFERENT?!
Our entire world is FILLED...With misled, sinful, selfish, immature, broken people! The church is simply an assembly of these people...Who have come out of the world...Because they now see God's love and grace! None of us are going to become holy and righteous overnight...Simply because we are saved now!
It takes a lifetime of devotion, growth, mistakes...And HELP! So theologically and literally... WHAT SHOULD THE CHURCH BE FILLED WITH TODAY?!
A conglomeration of Christians...From every walk and level of maturity...
With every problem and struggle known to mankind...Coming in those doors...In need of knowledge, love, forgiveness, and HELP...As they attempt to grow in Christ!
Who do you think sat around Jesus…Even at the very Last Supper He Ate?Imperfect sinners who would fail Him even on that night!!...And THEY were the Foundation of the Church to come! It has ALWAYS been that way... Since day ONE!
Moses led a group…Of immature, self-absorbed, hard-headed people...Who actually contemplated killing him...When they didn't like what was happening!...
And who fell away and lacked trust in God over & over!
Paul gave his life to a group of churches that would...Reject his teachings,
question his motives, lie and cheat the church, accuse him of theft, rebel at every turn...Jesus, our Savior Himself, walked with people that...Disagreed and argued with His Message...Even when HE WAS the Creator and Messiah!
People who walked away when asked to do too much...Cared more about their own status in the Kingdom...Than His call to love others...And eventually turned on Him in times of greatest trouble!
But this fact does NOT give us an excuse...To say,"Well, as long as I love Jesus, I'm OK... I don't need those people!" Nor does it give us the excuse to…Just get our sermon online and be done with it...Nor to quit when we are hurt or done wrong...Moses gave up the most privileged life he could have lived…TO SERVE God's people...Even offering his own salvation for theirs… When they failed!!!
Exodus 32:31-32 (NKJV)
31 Then Moses returned to the LORD and said, "Oh, these people have committed a great sin, and have made for themselves a god of gold! 32 Yet now, if You will forgive their sin--but if not, I pray, blot me out of Your book which You have written."
Paul counted it his greatest duty to give up everything...In hope of growing those who often mistreated him. He was even been willing to give up his own salvation...To unite his brothers with Christ!
Romans 9:3 (NKJV)
3 For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh,
Jesus SO LOVED those who rejected His message...And hated and deserted Him... That His last breaths and thoughts were for their salvation!
Luke 23:34 (NKJV)
34 Then Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do." And they divided His garments and cast lots.
Why… Did they act this way about God's people? Well… Let’s answer that question…By grasping one of our MOST important thoughts today!
God use to have many rules and regulations…For how to care for and keep the Tabernacle/Temple Holy! Why? That was where the Presence of God Dwelt!
After Christ Came… All of these things became unnecessary! Because the Sacrificial System was not needed… True!
More importantly… The Veil was TORN…God did NOT dwell in a BUILDING anymore!! He NOW Dwells IN HIS PEOPLE! This building is not Holy or Sacred… As in the old days! Because this building is NOT the church!
God’s people don’t ATTEND CHURCH… WE… ARE… HIS CHURCH!
So HIS PEOPLE are to be cared for and kept Holy! NOT a building! If WE don’t meet together… There is NO CHURCH! THAT MEANS… THINK ABOUT THIS…When you ignore, avoid and disrespect this church body...
You are literally hating the very Bride of Jesus Christ! The very ones HE saw worthy enough...To give His own Life to defend, protect and INDWELL!
LISTEN CLOSELY... The very group of people God the Father… Says He actually loves as much as He loves Jesus Himself!!
John 17:23 (NKJV)
23 I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.
John 15:9 (NKJV)
9 "As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love...
These people… WE see as annoying and troublesome...God loves… As much as Jesus!!! And Jesus loves them as much as He is loved by the Father!!!
ONE- Can you possibly grasp that you and I…Are loved that much?!!
TWO- Jesus plainly tells us THIS is the love…WE WILL have for one another… IF we love Him that much!
John 15:12 (NKJV)
12 This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.
Nothing has changed... God still has that crazy passion for them...And expects us to as well!! THIS IS WHY it is not OK to be, "Just fine without the church!"
THIS IS WHY it is not OK to, "Come when you feel like it!" THIS IS WHY it is not OK to, “Slip in & get a quick sermon!” Sing a song... And never connect or worry about anyone here...Until whenever you do come back!
If you feel you can do JUST FINE without the CHURCH...Or without any involvement…In the lives of those around you... Not only… Are you completely wrong!...But you don't know His Word...You aren't obeying His Word...And He is not filling your Spirit with His Presence...Because you obviously have no desire or concern for His people!!!
Which actually means...You are far from where…You actually THINK you may be!...And that you very possibly need the church MORE...Than those who are less knowledgeable...Or more troublesome, hypocritical people attending!
Because the attitude which YOU are actually portraying...In your displeasure and avoidance of these people...Actually shows a HEART FULL OF...
If you put YOUR comfort, expectations and desires...Above those broken people at that church...Doesn't that make YOUR HEART EXACTLY like theirs? Doesn't that mean you might be acting…A bit hypocritical yourself?
What The Real Church Looks Like...Here… Is WHY many people get SO LITTLE out of church...Because we have the old mentality of the world...And we are coming to church as the CONSUMERS ONLY! We take the parts of the message we want... And leave or reject what we don't...We befriend those that help US or make us feel good...And ignore those who don't...We attend when it suits us...And we stay home when it doesn't...We are happy when we are served and loved...But we rarely search out those in need of the same...There is very little humility... Very little devotion...Very little listening to others... And very little genuine caring...We feel the church should function AROUND...
My needs, my wants, my preferences...And MY… ALL-IMPORTANT opinion on every matter!
The church is NOT designed to serve YOU! It was designed to help us learn to love and serve others... Even... And especially the least deserving! To grow us into what Christ Died...To help us become! Besides Loving God Himself...
That… Is our whole purpose as new Christians!
John 13:34-35 (NKJV)
34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."
We can SAY we love Jesus all that we want...BUT... IT IS IN LOVING HIS CHURCH... HIS BELOVED...THAT WE ACTUALLY PROVE IT!
Hebrews 6:9-10 (ESV)
9 Though we speak in this way, yet in your case, beloved, we feel sure of better things—things that belong to salvation. 10 For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love that you have shown for his name in serving the saints, as you still do.
So while trying to be a part of this Body, or any Body of Christ...If you become offended... THAT'S OK... Learn to work through it in the love of Christ! If people are needy and selfish...THAT'S OK... Show them the patience and love of Christ!
If loving/serving others takes a lot of your time/money..THAT'S OK... Let sacrifice reveal what is truly important to you! THIS IS YOUR NEW CALLING...
EVERY CHRISTIAN'S CALLING! We are called... To have times of struggle, disagreement and sacrifice...To TEST our love in reality...And to GROW more like HIM!
LISTEN... The needs of God's people...Should spur you into action... NOT drive you away!!! Because you should be worried over and care for...The hurt, broken, misled…And even sinful brothers and sisters!
Romans 15:1 (NKJV)
1 We then who are strong ought to bear with the scruples of the weak, and not to please ourselves.
This love is ONLY REAL when it is LIVED!!! THAT is why so many…DON’T want to be a part of a church...BECAUSE IT IS… TOO needy and broken!
And THEY don't have the time or love to help fix it!
Galatians 5:13-14 (NKJV)
13 For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself."
HERE IS WHAT THE REAL FUNCTION OF CHURCH SHOULD BE...AND WHAT OUR PART SHOULD BE WITHIN IT: Church is where we go to Hear and Reflect on His Word...In a systematic, structured, applicable way! To hear what we NEED... And NOT just what we WANT to hear!
The Church is a place where we put ourselves under...The authority and direction of a shepherd... And even other brothers and sisters!
Hebrews 13:17 (ESV)
17 Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.
Ephesians 5:21 (NKJV)
... submitting to one another in the fear of God.
So that we might be held accountable... In Love!To what we have heard and learned!...And kept on course when we stray in our weaknesses!
The Church is a…"Spiritual, Emotional and Physical Hospital"...Where WE are the Patients... And the Care-Givers! When we arrive at church... Our focus should be upon…All of our brothers and sisters around us!
Letting the Spirit Guide us to those... Who may be new, uncertain, and vulnerable. Who may be hurting... Our going through rough times? Who may have physical needs or sickness... And are afraid to ask for help! Who may need someone to counsel with them... Listen to them...Or especially PRAY WITH THEM before God!
How many of our even "long-time" attendees…Come here with that mindset?
Galatians 6:2 (NKJV)
2 Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
IT IS OUR RESPONSIBILITY...TO LOVE AND CARE FOR ONE ANOTHER!
NOT IGNORE, GOSSIP ABOUT, OR CONDEMN EACH OTHER!
The Church is a place where we join in UNITY... As ONE...Celebrating our King before the world! Singing to... And Worshiping Him as a family
Encouraging one another in our excitement & awe! Church is where we JOIN…
Our talents, gifts, money, time and resources...To meet needs that can't be met as individuals! To pray and serve in power! To accomplish things bigger than ourselves!
Romans 12:4-6 (NKJV)
4 For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, 5 so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. 6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them:
Church is where we GROW…Our gifts, patience, love, and selflessness... BY DOING... Rather than just learning how to do!!
You can learn everything about Football online!
But you can't find your place on the team...
- You can't perfect your skills...
- You can't know the other players...
- You can't build the relationships... The comradery...
You can't ACTUALLY WIN THE GAME...UNLESS YOU GET OUT OF THE ARMCHAIR... OFF THE BENCH...AND ONTO THE TEAM... AND ONTO THE FIELD!
Church is where you join with a family…Of imperfect, sinful, selfish people like yourself...Who have found their real purpose and worth...Found forgiveness, help and Love...In their Creator and Savior...And are striving to be like Him in their fallen ways...Striving to give the love and mercy they have received...To others just as undeserving!
Striving to show others the bread they've found! In the Early church: To be SAVED… And to JOIN the church…We’re spoken of synonymous!
“And they added to the church daily…
Those who were being saved!” - Acts 2:47
When you join with the Church...You are joining a family of Ancient Warriors... Which has existed for thousands of years...Sometimes out in the open...Sometimes in the most secret of places! Sometimes in victory and joy...
Sometimes costing them everything! Giving their hearts, souls, fortunes and lives... In a VOW... Together...To protect His Word... To Preach His Word... To Serve others... And to stand expectantly together... In excitement and anticipation... As we WATCH for His Return!
Hebrews 10:24-25 (NKJV)
24 And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, 25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.
When I was a Deputy…I had to go into very dangerous situations…With the members of my Platoon on a number of occasions...I knew these were the people that had my back…And I had theirs...Their was NO ONE ELSE... US against the ENEMY!
I can only imagine the intensity…Of that comradely with soldiers deployed together!
Ephesians 6:12 (NKJV)
12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.
People... THIS IS THE PLACE...Where we JOIN with others…Who have chosen to follow the KING...Which the world around us is quickly turning against...THIS IS THE PLACE...Where that King has Called us together to Battle...Against the most dangerous adversary in human history...With most of the world either on his team...Or taken hostage by him...AND WE BELONG TO ONE ANOTHER IN THIS WAR!
Look around you!!!! Unity... Family... Brotherhood...These things DO NOT come by accident... They are chosen and cultivated!
John 18:36 (NKJV)
36 Jesus answered, "My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight...
These are the people you fight beside of... And fight for!! Those you heal and protect...If not... Then kindly make the decision to move on please!
If so... Then COMMIT!!
Then give this Brotherhood the passion, respect, love and loyalty that Christ intended!!...Because WE are all each other has…In this battle against Satan's armies...THAT… IS GOD'S PLAN FOR HIS CHURCH... I PRAY YOU SEE THIS GROUP A BIT DIFFERENTLY NOW!
HOW COULD WE POSSIBLY THINK WE CAN DO ALL OF THIS...FROM OUR LIVING ROOM... WITHOUT ANOTHER SOUL?!
"HOLD THE LINE!"… TOGETHER!
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