ROMANS 1:8-12 – First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world. For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I mention you always in my prayers, asking that somehow by God’s will I may now at last succeed in coming to you. For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you— that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine.
THEME OF THE DAY. BEING THE CHURCH AS GOD DESIGNED. One of the most beautiful scenes to observe in this life and most rewarding experiences to have is to watch the church of the Lord Jesus function as He desires, and to be an active participant in His properly functioning church. And it is the church living and functioning as God designed that offers a despairing world true and enduring hope. When we, as God’s people, are living out church life described in the New Testament, the world sees the reality of Christ, feels the impact of a loving community, and will be drawn to the Gospel. So, what would such a church (defined as a local, visible body of believers in relationship with one another), look like? Let’s identify two things. One from the “church history” New Testament book of Acts, and the other from today’s scripture.
First, a local body of believers living out New Testament Christianity would be those who “devote themselves together to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and prayer” (Acts 2:42). A genuine church has these four elements in its practice – Biblical preaching/teaching, spiritual fellowship, observing the Lord’s Table, and commitment to prayer. And a healthy Christian will be active in all four of these in his or her church. This individual will be faithful to the preaching and teaching of the Word, will commit to being with other believers in fellowship, exercise faithfulness to the communion table, and maintain a reputation of faithfulness to the church’s prayer ministry. These elements are not to be selective or neglected. All must be active in the local church and all people are to be active in each element.
The next “look” at a spiritually healthy local church is found in today’s scripture. It is pointed to us as individuals investing in other Christians. Go back and read the heart of the Apostle Paul. He longed for the presence of the Christians in Rome, and that for the mutual building of each other up in the faith, as well as practicing the ministry of encouragement. This is an important truth to grasp. The spiritual health of our churches is dependent upon the spiritual health of its individuals. As my walk, your walk, with the Lord goes, so will be the help or hindrance in the health of our local assemblies. And in this scripture, we see that to be healthy as individual Christians, we must be individually, and spiritually, involved with other Christians. We cannot be passive when it comes to relationships with believers. God calls us to invest in each other for spiritual growth and edification. The Bible knows no such identity of a Christian who lack spiritual investment in other believers. To be on the sidelines of the spiritual life of a local church is never God’s design for His children in relationship with one another. And mere attendance doesn’t fulfill this design. Personal involvement in the spiritual growth in the lives of other believers is what makes a church healthy and thriving. To be passive ensures a slow but sure decay in one’s individual walk with the Lord as well as that of a local church.
Being the church as God designed and desires is a beautiful thing to behold, and gives the world the true representation of the Lord Jesus. Are we contributing to this beautiful portrait in our local churches? If so, praise the Lord for enabling you to do so. If not, why not? God desires, even commands, far more from us in being the church He wants.
PRAYER: “Father, help me to see I am not my own existing for Your glory and the spiritual good of Your people.”
QUOTE: “If God is using you in the lives of His people, praise Him. If not, why are you not doing His will?”