God First Spiritually – What Am I Doing For the Church? (2)
See full series: lights-in-a-dark-world-2019
God First Spiritually – What Am I Doing For the Church? (2)
Sunday, June 9, 2019 am
LIGHTS IN A DARK WORLD (21)
Seeking First the Kingdom of God (5)
As we conclude our study of the spiritual aspect of being an example in every aspect of our lives, today we want to continue our focus on the importance of the church. Last week we identified what the church is, and we talked about how the church can help us, as we strive to be lights in this dark world. Far too many diminish the importance of the local church in shaping their lives as we interact with this world. We need to understand how she can help me put God’s kingdom first – by 1) Helping me ground my faith; 2) Giving me a spiritual family to help me with my struggles; 3) As a refuge from this world (think of why we assemble when we do); 4) By bringing us closer to God; and 5) By keeping me accountable – which is NOT a bad thing (we understand this in various aspects of the world – think of a trainer, or some group that helps us with our struggles – e.g. meetings, “accountability partners”, etc.). We need that spiritually as well.
When we appreciate what the church is and what she has done for me, the next thing I need to ask is, “What can I do for her?” That is the focus of this lesson.
- An equally important question. IF with the church we are letting our lights shine in this dark world, we ought to do all we can to build her up and preserve her. We need her in our life and want her to accomplish maximum effectiveness for us.
To this, she needs to be so important that we invest in her. Typically, what you invest your resources in, is something you will be concerned about its success. The more we put into the church, the more we will care about her.
Ensure her purity – Ephesians 5:26-27 describes how Christ gave Himself for the church (His bride) to cleanse her, and to present her to himself a glorious church, without spot or wrinkle.
2 Corinthians 11:2, Paul desires to present the church in Corinth “as a chaste virgin to Christ.”
How is a church impure? By tolerating immorality and error in its midst. Consider 1 Corinthians 5:1-8, Revelation 2:12-29 – the churches of Pergamos and Thyatira that tolerated error and immorality in their numbers.
Also of note is Laodicea, Revelation 3:14-22, that was condemned for its lukewarm attitude. She was called upon to repent and purify herself (vs. 18 – refined gold, white garments, and eye salve for healing).
Many are compromising the purity of the church today, by tolerance (as we have addressed), watering down the message that keeps her pure, failing to discipline, etc. Some of the churches are growing IN NUMBER, but are they growing closer to God?
A big, thriving church is meaningless if God, our Lord, and His will are not at its foundation.
Ensure her future – many churches today are dying. The reasons are many. Sometimes it is indifference and apathy (as we addressed two weeks ago).
- Sometimes it is an unwillingness to adapt to culture (without compromising God’s word). And often it is because we see the corrupt world around us and we are NOT preparing ourselves to deal with it. We WANT TO do something, but we don’t know how to respond to its attacks. Part of the answer is to ground ourselves in the truth and beware of what this error is.
In Revelation 2 & 3, 3 of the 7 churches were in danger concerning their future – Ephesus that had left her first love, Sardis that was dying (described as having a name that they were alive, but they were dead), and Laodicea – the lukewarm church.
We need to do what we can to ensure the future of the Lord’s church in this community.
Luke 18:8, “When the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?” A sobering question. We ought to make this personal and local – When he returns, will He really find faith HERE?
Do I actively participate? The local church is not supposed be merely a “spectator sport”. We are expected to be actively involved in her work.
Am I here when we assemble?
We worship God by participating together – in this God is glorified, AND we are edified. John 4:24, Colossians 3:16, etc.
We contribute with our resources on the first day of the week (1 Corinthians 16:1-2)
We ought to be involved in building up each other as saints – preferring one another to those of the world. Romans 12:10, Philippians 2:3-4, 1 Peter 2:17 – “Love the brotherhood”.
As we have opportunity, we seek to reach the lost and bring them into the fold (2 Corinthians 5:10-11, Acts 8:4, 1 Thessalonians 1:6-9, etc.)
And of course, we are to build each other up – a purpose of this lesson. (1 Thessalonians 5:11)
Do I promote unity? Unity is fundamental to growth and edification. If we are biting and devouring one another, we will not be growing (Galatians 5:15).
Ephesians 4:1-3 calls for us to be endeavoring to keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace.
Philippians 2:1-2 describes the depth of our unity.
1 Corinthians 1:10 says there are to be no divisions among us.
Romans 14 challenges us to deal with and tolerate differences in matters of liberties (Romans 14:19).
John 13:34-35 – recall how Jesus noted that all will know we are disciples by loving one another (and showing it). The world needs to see how united we are. It is fundamental to letting our light shine spiritually.
If spiritual matters are important to me, I will seek to promote unity by my actions and attitudes toward my brethren.
Do I support her with my resources? We all have talents and resources.
For some it is giving – 2 Corinthians 9:7-8, cf. Acts 4:34-37;
For others it is our abilities – to lead in worship, to encourage and uplift, to help brethren with their physical needs – transportation, chores, etc. Whatever our abilities, we need to use them to build up the kingdom of God – 1 Peter 4:11, Romans 12:4-8, etc.
The local church is an organization. Organizations need workers to do the work at hand. That is why we should be interested in this.
Again, be reminded of Ephesians 4:16 – it is when “every part does it share” that the body grows for the edifying of itself in love.
How do I portray her to this world? The whole premise of letting our lights shine has to do with living so that the world will see the need for God in their lives. The church that is sound, active and vibrant can be an asset in this.
As we let our lights shine in EVERY area of our lives, let them see the influence of the Lord’s church there – both universally and locally.
There may be circumstances where as we stand for truth, we will be maligned by the world. So be it! BUT, there are also times when that need not be the case – by our attitudes and actions toward those outside. Do we make the Lord’s church as attractive as possible?
To do this, we must live as if she is important by our example and words. Do NOT belittle the Lord’s body to outsiders (or insiders for that matter). Do not live so that the name of the Lord (and His church) is blasphemed because of you.
Have I become “all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.” (1 Corinthians 9:19-23)
Consider 1 Corinthians 6:4-7 in a passage where Paul is telling is not to take each other to court (sue each other). Vs. 7 notes that we ought to be willing to suffer wrong rather than let the world see the church tainted.
Romans 2:24 – the name of God is blasphemed because of you. When we behave badly, even as individuals, it can discredit God.
The point of these lesson is to remind us of how important the church actually is. We need the church that God gave us as we strive to shine as lights in a dark world. The church can be invaluable if we appreciate all that she can do to build us up in the faith and keep us on the path to heaven. So how important is the church to me?