How would you like to be part of a world-wide movement that can change history? How would you like to be in a group where you can be made stronger, find a ‘home,’ and be shown the way to live with real hope and purpose? I’m in! And, you can be, too. That place is the Church, not just a church. I hear you, “Jerry, you’re selling something that is not real. My church is boring, a place where people argue and fight, where tradition is more important than mission.” Sometimes that is true, but healthy churches, who are functioning as a part of His Church, are the HOPE of the World!
When I was 16 years of age, God spoke to me (He really did, but that is another story) and asked me to serve Him in His Church. It was not my dream. Even as a teenager, much of what I had seen in the church was nothing more than a ‘religiously dressed up’ version of a local club. But, exploring the Word, I found that God called the church into existence and entrusted the future of this planet to her. He gave her the Gospel of Christ and the gifts of the Holy Spirit so that she would go out and make a difference – now and eternally.
Paul tells us that God planned the Church to demonstrate what Christ’s Gospel could do to make a new society, not built on human accomplishments or personality, but on the Spirit’s power: “When it came to presenting the Message to people who had no background in God’s way, … God saw to it that I was equipped, but you can be sure that it had nothing to do with my natural abilities. And so here I am, preaching and writing about things that are way over my head, the inexhaustible riches and generosity of Christ. … to make plain what God, who created all this in the first place, has been doing in secret and behind the scenes all along. Through followers of Jesus like yourselves gathered in churches, this extraordinary plan of God is becoming known and talked about even among the angels! All this is proceeding along lines planned all along by God and then executed in Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 3:8-12, The Message) Think about that! When the church is healthy, even the angels are impressed.
We feed the hungry, teach new disciples, provide a place of safe harbor for those who are hurting, give to support the work of spreading the Message, gather for prayer, and offer up worship. Sadly, some local churches have forgotten that and they get together to whine about the world, build higher walls, and cry for rescue! That’s not the plan. We are warriors who do battle, lovers who know the power of love to transform, people with purpose that is greater than the cuisine we eat or the house in which we live.
There is a high level war going on around the Church all the time –
evil fighting with good, but Light overcoming darkness.
Hate rises, defeated by sacrificial love.
Ignorance and fear meets wisdom and courage.
Life comes to the soul and those who were dead though living awaken to eternal possibilities! Those who only think of the church as a “Sunday club,” a social gathering of like-minded people, have yet to catch a glimpse of her true mission!
I love the privilege of serving Faith Discovery Church. She is not a large church, nor is she rich, but the breadth of her reach is amazing. On any given week, she is touching hundreds of people- feeding families, providing education to children in her Christian school, inviting people to experience the Presence of God in worship, training boys and girls in faith, and counseling the confused, offering Christ’s salvation to those who are confused and/or enslaved by their sins- just to mention a few things. Who does all this? We are a network of volunteers including dozens of faithful men and women, young and old, who make it all possible.
So, I am going to get personal here.
Are you part of a local congregation? If not, why not?
Please do not tell me about the hypocrites, the failed pastors, the misplaced priorities. All those things ARE TRAGICALLY true. Christ’s Church consists of people- just like me, like you – who are imperfect, failing, sometimes short-sighted, selfish, and sinful. Yet, the Spirit comes and equips, changes, and builds people where He is invited. When God is welcomed, personally and in our fellowship, He comes to us; not to make our church a perfect place, but to make her a healing home. A living, Spirit-filled church, will always be a messy place, full of people at all stages of spiritual development, from infancy to maturity.
The church is the place where God will most effectively use you in His work, the place where the gifts of the Spirit He’s invested in you are brought to mature and effective expression. “The way God designed our bodies is a model for understanding our lives together as a church: every part dependent on every other part, the parts we mention and the parts we don’t.” (1 Corinthians 12:25, The Message) Christians cannot fully function as God intends without being ‘in the Body.’ Those Christians who dismiss the church as irrelevant or unnecessary ignore what the Bible teaches, and not without real consequence for themselves and others.
People criticize their church – sometimes reasonably, often unfairly. Some churches do ‘church’ better than others. But, a person who works towards the destruction of a church, does an awful thing. He is attacking what God loves! The Church, which includes local congregations, is His Bride. The Word says that “Christ’s love makes the church whole. His words evoke her beauty. Everything he does and says is designed to bring the best out of her, dressing her in dazzling white silk, radiant with holiness.” If Jesus gives His church such love, how can we so easily attack, criticize, dismiss, and destroy her?
Church – let’s love her. Let’s give ourselves to make her great, for Christ’s sake. Let’s raise our level of commitment to her, allowing nothing to become more important than being part of God’s work to reach the world. Let’s pray for her success. Let’s be the place where the Light of Christ shines brightly in a very dark world.
The word from the Word says that “Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing a her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.” (Ephesians 5:25) And this, “Come to Christ, who is the living cornerstone of God’s temple. He was rejected by the people, but he is precious to God who chose him. And now God is building you, as living stones, into his spiritual temple. What’s more, you are God’s holy priests, who offer the spiritual sacrifices that please him because of Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 2:4-5, NLT)
Build Your Kingdom Here
Come set Your rule and reign
in our hearts again.
Increase in us, we pray.
Unveil why we’re made,
Come set our hearts ablaze with hope,
Like wildfire in our very souls.
Holy Spirit, come invade us now.
We are Your Church,
We need Your pow’r – in us!
We seek Your kingdom first,
We hunger and we thirst,
Refuse to waste our lives,
For You’re our joy and prize.
To see the captives’ hearts released,
The hurt, the sick, the poor, at peace.
We lay down our lives for heaven’s cause,
We are Your Church,
We pray revive this earth!
Build Your kingdom here,
Let the darkness fear!
Show Your mighty hand,
Heal our streets and land.
Set Your church on fire,
Win this nation back.
Change the atmosphere,
Build Your kingdom here, we pray!
Unleash Your kingdom’s pow’r,
Reaching the near and far.
No force of hell can stop
Your beauty changing hearts.
You made us for much more than this,
Awake the kingdom seed in us.
Fill us with the strength and love of Christ,
We are Your Church!
We are the hope on earth!
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