We ended part 1 of this thought with a brief move from the Old Testament and into the New Testament. We started with a declaration from Peter after Jesus asked the question, in Matthew 16: 15-18 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” This statement is the foundation of Church Life.
What is the Church? Globally it is God’s Children in connection with Him. Locally it is a gathering of God’s people. Once you are in the Family of God, you are a part of His Church. So why join a local Church, couldn’t you just watch on YouTube, listen to a Podcast, or read his word alone? That may be a question that many will ask as we move away from the “Shelter in Place” mandates we currently find ourselves in.
Below I have pulled together many passages from the New Testament and created a type of letter. Bible verses are in Bold Italic and my own words all in a lighter font. I believe you will see that Jesus intends for us to grow in Him by being accountable to each other. As you will see, I found repeatedly that we are to reflect Christ, serve, and grow each other in our gifts. This is all done because Jesus writes a new commandment, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13: 34-35)
We have accepted Jesus and want so much to follow Him, where can we learn, where can we be led, and who holds us accountable, The Church, God’s People! Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. (Hebrews 10: 23-25)
How do we stir up one another to Glorify God as the unified church? Put on, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.(Colossians 3: 12-13). We accept these characteristics because at salvation, we put ourselves in the background and allow Jesus Christ to lead, by being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ. (Colossians 2: 2-3). For Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. (Ephesians 5: 23-33).
Paul encouraged Timothy to be a good servant of Christ Jesus. This encouragement is given for all who follow Christ and gather in His name. Being trained in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine
Train yourself for godliness. For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe. Teach these things, set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. Do not neglect the gift you have, practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress. Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this. (1 Timothy 4: 6-16).
We are more than one building, we are one body with many members, and the members do not all have the same function. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: prophecy, service, generosity, leadership, mercy, and cheerfulness. Let love be genuine. Love one another with brotherly affection, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. (Romans 12: 4-13). He gave some apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, to the knowledge of the Son of God. (Ephesians 4: 11-13). This is only a sample list of Gifts that God has given. Find your calling and once you have connected in the Body of Christ, Serve!
Speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. (Ephesians 4: 15-16). Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another. (Romans 12: 14-16)
Being a part of Church should cause us to look within ourselves and find the person God created within us. And then grow that person to equip others by the transformation of our mind. When we accept Christ into our life it is the beginning process of transforming our thoughts and our way of life. We need each other to accomplish that transformation.
At the end of Part 1 of this thought, “The Church in Flux”, we read in Acts 2 the spirit of the believers. Let us look at that to end this discussion.
And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts. (Acts 2: 42-46)
My prayer is that wherever you call Church, that you find these four foundational truths to be at the heart of your gathering (Church).
- Devoted to the teaching of God’s Word
- Fellowship and love for each other
- The breaking of bread, more than eating together but serving and caring for each other