Dancing With The Stars
Okay, it has taken several chapters, but I have established some solid groundwork. Now it is time to build on that and get specific about your responsibilities. Your first job is to make sure that you are in the Family of God. Have you been born again? Have you come to God, seeing your sin and need for forgiveness, then accepting the forgiveness which he offers through the gift of salvation by His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ?
As I said, that is your first step. If you neglect that, you will be lost in all the rest of this studying. I realize that my recommendation may seem very simple, but it is also very important. It is the minimum step that places you in the Body of Christ. You might be intrigued by all this talk about relationships and love, but, you will never experience it without God. Nothing but the love of God will put you over–and it is only through the life of Jesus that you can experience it.
Once you have made that first step, you need to do several outward things as visible signs of an inward change (Acts 2:42). You need to find the right church, be baptized publicly in front of its members, and put your name on its membership roll. And yes, I also realize this is not the true invisible church, but it is the visible one, comparable to the Church at Philippi or the Church at Thessalonica, through which the Holy Spirit does his work during this age.
Don’t skip this one! I can’t tell you how many times I have heard someone tell me, “Well, I don’t need a church. I can worship God on my boat or out in a field.” Yeah, yeah. I realize that, but do you? When was the last time you worshiped God while mowing the lawn or lying in a hammock at your cottage?
You have to understand that the Church isn’t about people streaming to a shrine; and it is not about people making up an audience for a speaker; quite simply, it is laborers reaching out to their confused and seeking brothers and sisters with something so vital that, if it is received, will change their lives.
I am continually hearing people complain about “this” church and “that” church, and believing they are all a complete waste of time and energy; they are all filled with fakes and hypocrites. They see it as a “money producing corporation that churns out programs”; that it is, “Impotent and weak.”
That may be true, but it is so easy to dismiss this dislike for the church as simply being another symptom of original sin. Because when we merely point out the problems but don’t seek solutions, we are best to remain silent. But that doesn’t help. either.
In Paul’s eyes, there was nothing dull or tiresome about following Christ. His Lord had a plan that was being carried to completion, and Paul and all the faithful in Christ were part of that plan! It included redemption, adoption and the obtaining of an eternal inheritance in the heavenly places.
According to the Scriptures, our God’s purpose has now been openly revealed (Ephesians 3:10,11). It was the knowledge that they were part of an eternal plan that imparted unquenchable enthusiasm to the early Christians. They burned with holy zeal for Christ and felt that they were part of an army that the Lord was leading to ultimate conquest over all the powers of darkness. That was enough to fill them with perpetual enthusiasm.
Now most will agree with everything I just said, but turn around and tell me that they don’t need a “church,” to make it happen. And that my friends, is the problem. Too many a trying to “make it on their own.” My question has always been, what is my part in that plan? What role do I play? Was I willing to seek Him and find the answer to those questions? I finally realized that I had to become involved in a fellowship of other believers who desire Christ above all else, and you find your place in that Army!
The Bible tells us, “Don’t forsake gathering together.” Why is that? Because that is God’s avenue of making you accountable, involved, broken, and cleansed. Lone Rangers don’t survive long on the battlefield of life. You need to be worshiping your God with a group of fellow travelers, people of a like mind and heart.
Okay, so how do you find the right one? Well, that is a tough question. Obviously you have to do it through prayer, but there are a few others things to consider. First, realize that no visible church is going to be perfect, and the Lord’s plan is probably for you to see some faults—and join it anyway. As one man has said, “If your church has more than two people in it, you’ll have problems.”
You can go to a shopping center or to the movie theater or even to a ball game, but the church is something which demands a completely different human relationship, the relationship of belonging. If someone is really in—really belongs to a church, they are just as much a member of it when they sit at their desk in a business or house as when they are in a pew at a meetinghouse. The point is that the relationship, if real, is continuous, regardless of time and place and performance. That is one way God brings maturity to us.
Nevertheless, there are some basics, and in out next message we will examine that.
With these Morning Messages, I take you on guided tours to, as Bunyan described, the Celestial City. At times we linger at corners familiar and unseen. And explore the depths of our faith along the way.
The trail is long, but there’s no hurry. Though we do need to stock up on supplies for the way, and that’s where I need your help. If you enjoy these messages, please consider becoming a contributing member of this tour group. It will be very much appreciated.