Today, I just finished a series at my church called, “Going Together”. It was a series on what it really means to be a part (a member) of the body of Christ, the church, and how we, as brothers and sisters in Christ, are called by God to be one body, trusting in Him for all things. I am not the kind of pastor who likes preaching through series like this. Since beginning preaching 12 years ago, I have pretty much stayed strictly with expositional preaching through books of the Bible. But, this summer, after much prayer and pondering on the spiritual condition of my church, God lead me to four passages in Scripture that talk about being a part of the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12; Romans 12; Ephesians 4:1-16; Philippians 1:27-2:11). Could have I said more? Without a doubt, yes. But, I could not have said less. God taught me so much, and I pray my church will bear fruit because of this series.
My church, like many churches, has a zeal to serve the Lord. I am blessed to have the privilege to serve as pastor of Renaissance Bible Church. About this time last year, we launched a new vision for our church. We were pumped and excited about all that God would do in us and through us.
Since last year we have learned many things. Many things about ourselves, about our church, and about how to serve God together. But at the beginning of the summer, I began to see people struggling in their faith. There are probably several different reasons why this was happening, but I think that there was one major reason supporting almost all the struggles. We were boldly individually, but not as a church. Now, I should be clear on one thing. This was not an intentional decision, rather a subtle move away from God’s will for us as a church. One of things that contributed to this was our lack of small group participation. Before our vision change, we had small groups every Sunday morning before the corporate worship time. Once we changed for the new vision we moved our small groups to mid-week home groups. This began very well. But by the beginning of the new year our home group had lost momentum, and it never recovered. We were not encouraging one another and praying for one another as we once did, and because of this we lived our Christian lives individually, but had lost the corporate zeal that was once a benchmark of our congregation.
Have we regained our passion for one another? Not yet, but I sought to demonstrate, through God’s word, His will for our lives as a church. And I hope through the coming weeks, through the power of the Holy Spirit in our hearts, we will rekindle the flame of fellowship that was once envied by churches in our area. Before, visitors from others churches would visit our church and leave in awe of the love and joy they saw in our midst. Now, I do not think that aroma is as present as before. My prayer is that we can regain in our church this sweet smelling offering to the Lord.
What did we learn in the past few weeks? Only our future actions will be able to tell. But I can share briefly what I exposed in the texts that I used.
- The church, body of Christ, is important, as well as is every single member.
- Every single member has a role to play in church. Our placement and our role in the body are decided and given by God.
- Every single believer is to be a part (member) of the church and using their spiritual gifts (given by God and empowered by the Spirit) in order to edify the other members.
- The Christian life is about renouncing ourselves (our sin, our pride, our will) and surrendering ourselves like a living sacrifice to God in order to be used by Him for His will, His mission, His purpose, and His glory. This brings us the most joy as believers in Jesus.
- We (believers in Jesus) belong to one another, like a family. The church is God’s will for every believer.
- Until we are ready to let go of our version of Christianity we can never embrace God’s will for us as a Christian.
- We are to worship and serve together.
- Fellowship must be genuine. Superficial fellowship is hypocrisy and dishonors the Lord
- Every member is a minister and is to serve the Lord as one in order that the whole body (church) is edified and grows to maturity.
- We are responsible for one another and to one another.
- If there is a problem in the church, then there is a problem with us, for we are part of the church. Therefore, we must be a part of the solution.
- We are called to unity, not uniformity.
- Doctrine is crucial for unity. While there are «minor doctrines» that we can have varying convictions and positions, Unity requires and demands that we agree on the «major doctrines» of the faith. There is only one faith.
- We must pursue spiritual maturity individually and as a corporate body. While this does include biblical knowledge, it does not stop there. Maturity requires putting in practice what we have learned.
- We are called to believe in the Lord Jesus together, as well as to suffer for His name together. Both belief and suffering are gifts of God to us as His people.
- Humility is a crucial ingredient to being a healthy member of a healthy church.
- God’s will is that we stand together for His glory.
- Others are to be considered more important than ourselves. Selfish ambition and conceit seek to destroy the unity and effectiveness of the church. They are like gangrene that can kill the whole body. Therefore, we must constantly evaluate our hearts and attitudes.
- Glory only comes after sacrifice.
- Without Jesus’ life in us, the hope of glory, it is impossible to faithfully live any of the things above. If we seek to live the Christian life in our own power we will become tired, frustrated, angry, bitter, and might even give up the church completely. Only by walking in faith in God’s power, provision, and purpose can we faithfully live this way, and the only way we can live joyfully the Christian life. It requires having the same mind as Jesus Christ.
My prayer is that we as a church will bear the spiritual fruit that God desires to produce through us. This can only happen if we are ready to walk in faith to His word. Time will tell if we are ready.