In my first post of 2014 I would like to share what I think is vital for the church to thrive in the coming year and beyond. Yesterday, in my message to the church I am a part of, I taught from Acts 2:42-47. I shared four habits or lifestyles that distinguished the first church from the rest of their community. They “devoted themselves to” Bible teaching, the fellowship, breaking of bread (Lord’s Supper), and prayers. They shared life together, served each other, helped one another, and enjoyed the Lord together. In other words, they implicated themselves in God’s word, His church, His mission, and in the lives of other believers. This is what it will take for the church to thrive in the coming year. EVERY member implicated in the kingdom of God and the ministry of the church. Here is the passages from Acts 2:
42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.
There are numerous people in our churches that claim allegiance to the Lord Jesus yet not implicated in the life of the church and in the proclamation of the gospel. Some might say that they are not really followers of Jesus if they are not implicated. That could be true for some, but my goal in this post is not to determine if that is the case. I think to make a judgmental statement and assume they are all fake Christians is to kick them to the curb and miss a great opportunity to encourage and love a group of people who in my mind are missing one of the greatest blessing we have on this earth: the church. I am convinced that many are really believers in Christ, yet are not implicated probably for numerous reasons.
1. They love other things more. Simple and clear. I could give hundreds of examples of what they could love more, but it is really a fill in the blank kind of answer. If that is you, what do you fill in your blank?
2. They were led to say a prayer to accept Jesus but never taught nor mentored to follow Jesus. Their being “born again” to live a new life in Christ stopped at birth. The have never grown. Some are content to stay that way. Others would grow if invested in.
3. They want to be involved, yet are waiting to be loved by the church before they are willing to be a part of the church. While I sympathize greatly with this group, it is the result of an incomplete understanding of what is the church. When one trusts in Christ they become part of God’s family, member of His church, citizen in heaven. So, to not participate is to deny who they are in Christ. Scripture does call the church to love people, especially those in the household of God (Galatians 6:10). But Scripture never calls a believer to wait to implicate themselves in the faith until they “feel loved” by others. This is one of the devil’s lies that steals away our joy in the Lord. He knows if we will keep our eyes on us, then we will not experience fully the joy that comes from completely implicating ourselves in Christ’s kingdom.
4. They do not think it is necessary or important. They blame their lack of involvement on the deficiency of the church, but in reality it is their heart that has become hard and callous towards God’s will. They cannot hear His voice anymore when it comes to what He says about the church. Even though Scripture is clear on the subject, they have chosen to mentally block those verses out. Are there deficiencies in the church? Absolutely! And there always will be as long as it is made up of sinful people. What we must be careful of not doing is to blame our lack of desire to be involved on others when in reality the blame is on us.
5. They say that they do not have time. Even though for parties, kid´s activities, going out to the restaurant or the movies, watching their favorite TV programs, going to sporting events, etc. they will change their schedules and make sacrifices, yet to be implicated in the local body of believers they are too busy. There are people in my church that work long and hard hours, yet are implicated in the life of the church. Their life does at least two things. It greatly encourages me and secondly it silences the excuse that implication in the life of the church is impossible for busy people. Most of the people, including myself, are busy. It is really a matter of what one wants more. Thus, this point relates back to my first one.
There are probably more reasons, but these are the ones that I shared yesterday in my message to the church. Because of the great love God has shown us in His Son Jesus, there is really only one logical and biblical response we can have to His marvelous grace and overwhelming mercy toward us: Complete surrender and total abandonment to Him. Because, we love Him and desire Him and are thankful for Him. Implication in His church, for His gospel, is the only biblical way to live for the believer. We must implicate ourselves. We cannot wait any longer for a special revelation from God to tell us (He has already given us special revelation in His word). We cannot wait until we feel like implicating ourselves. We may never get there. We can no longer blame other things for not allowing us to implicate ourselves. The first day of the first church had 3000 people trust in Christ. Their response was implication in being taught God’s word, in the church, in celebrating the Lord’s Supper, and in prayer. This is where their salvation in Christ led them. To be together. Share life together. Pray together. Learn about their Lord together. For God’s glory and their joy.
It is my prayer that if you are currently using one of these five reasons for not implicating yourself in the life of the church that you would sincerely check your heart, ponder on the great salvation that Christ offers you, then respond appropriately. Not according to your schedule. Not according to others. Not according to your love for other things. But, according to Christ`s love for you.
It is my prayer for my church that each member of the body of Christ will implicated themselves in Christ’s kingdom! May 2014 be the year of implication! JE SUIS IMPLIQUÉ!