For most of my life "church" was a place to go - a destination. "Time to go to church! Let's go! We Don't want to be late!"
("What do you mean 'We don't want to be late'? I sure do! I HATE church! Church is boring.")
Spoken like a true unbeliever. I used to tell my wife that "church doesn't do anything for me." That statement alone tells you what kind of "Christian" I was. I had no idea what church was to be about. No idea at all. Church is not about me and my "feelings." Church is not about "me" at all. It's about God!
When I first became a believer I joined TWO churches! I joined my wife's church, a very traditional Lutheran church on the outside but, as I would discover later, a very liberal, "progressive" church on the inside. I also joined "my" church, a very casual, welcoming church. Things were good. But then something began to happen between me and the churches that I was attending - I began to read the Bible. I began comparing what I was reading with what I was seeing in church. Things just didn't seem to line up.
Have you ever noticed that? You'll be sitting in church and all of a sudden you hear or see something that doesn't make sense. Those moments when something seems contrary to what you KNOW is true. Well, when those moments occur, what should we do about it?
The normal thing to do I guess is to simply ignore it. I call that Ostrich syndrome. Maybe, by sticking our heads in the sand, the problem will simply vanish. It will go away and things will be all better. That's like ignoring a tick when you see on crawling on your arm. We could ignore the problem but chances are that problem will just get worse and embed itself deeper and deeper.
We could complain I guess. We could speak up and let our voice be heard. But that might alienate us from "the crowd." What should we do? Where can we find some answers? Hmm. :)
Open your Bibles to Matthew 21 . . .
12 Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. 13 “It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it ‘a den of robbers.’” - Matthew 21:12-13
Now turn to the Book of Acts, the second chapter.
"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." - Acts 2:42-47
Is your church like that? It should be. Let's summarize. The following is a list of things your church should be doing. If it is not, perhaps change is in order.
- Devotion. The church should be devoted to teaching about God. Old and New Testament. That includes preaching the Gospel. Sin, repentance, forgiveness of sins through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
- Fellowship. Fellowship is not eating doughnuts after church. It is coming together as a body for mutual edification and support. It'd talking about Jesus, not watching the game at church.
- Communion. The breaking of bread - not only in church once a month, but always.
- Prayer. Prayer is one of the most important parts of a Christians life. We are called to "pray continuously" (1 Thes 5:17) so we should probably do that, right?
- Help. Jesus said "the poor you will always have with you." We are to help them. If one of our brothers of sisters are in need . . . NEED . . . we are to help them.
- Attend. We are called to worship with other believers. This can happen in a large church or a small one, even a house church. We are called to worship . . . together.
- Eat. We are to break bread together. This not only applies to our immediate, physical family but we are to break bread with other believers as well. See also point three above.
- Worship. We are to praise God for all He has given us. This doesn't just happen in church but every day. Praise God always - for the blessings we receive as well as the trials. Praise Him in all circumstances.
- Prepare. If we do all these thing, we must be prepared for the harvest. God will add to our number. That is not the job of the church.
"18 . . . when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you. And I believe it in part, 19 for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized." - 1 Corinthians 11:18-19
Lord Jesus, may your church be ready for your return. Your bride is dirty and tattered and totally unworthy. But through your sacrifice on the cross you have made us into a radiant bride. Pure, white as snow, for our long awaited wedding day.
Wedding Day by Casting Crowns