The great Apostle Paul, through the inspiration of God's Holy Spirit, writes a pretty strong argument for our involvement in a community of Christian believers. He writes in the book of Ephesians:
Can you see it here? There's a difference between God's plan for man and man's plan to reach God. In all other faiths, Man must work hard to reach God. In Christianity alone, God, through Jesus Christ, reaches down to man's level. Even to die on a cross to pay the price for our sins. Every other system is based on us working to be good enough.
Now, our good works are the result of us loving God and being loved by Him- two very different things!As His children, we get abundant life in Christ while we are on the Earth- blessings and strength and power in the midst of hardship! It's all part of the mystery, it's all because of the love Jesus has for us.
So what exactly is the role of the local church? Let's begin at the beginning. Back in the Garden of Eden in the Book of Genesis, God sets forth some pretty basic and important facts.
Fast forward to the New Testament and Christian church and it's first mention in the Book of Acts, chapter 2. Interestingly, when the Bible wants to address an individual, the word "believer" is used. When its' a gathering of believers, the word "church" is chosen.
We live in a society where we are encouraged to be independent, where will people go when they have a desire to know more about Jesus- especially if they have no contact with believers? They will look for a church!
As believers in Jesus, we have a common purpose, a responsibility, a privilege, as a church to share God's message of love and to bless the people in our community. The beginning of it all comes with delivering the message while we care for those around us. The church must work in unity to pull this task off successfully.
Paul's humility and his understanding of where he fits is evident all through his writings as he was inspired by God's Holy Spirit, a large portion of the New Testament. Look back at Ephesians 3 again:
He accepts his place in the Kingdom of God. By saying this, he is acknowledging each person has their place and a different – not greater or less- role to play. Because the Scriptures teach us that He has given each of us a field to work. (2 Corinthians 10:13) That role for us is to be found in two places- one inside the church and one outside the church. In fact, we are strategically placed by God where we are for His purposes.
Just think- God has wasted nothing by giving us the life we have. Be it long or short, healthy or not, God has a plan for each of us. He's placed us where we live, with the families and friends we have and in the workplaces He has chosen for us. Really incredible when you grasp that truth. It means nothing is wasted, and nothing is a mistake.
Each team has one purpose: To win! How do they do it?
- The team belongs to the owner- they play for him
- It’s under the leadership of the coaches
- Each has a unique position on the team
- Each player brings strengths and weaknesses, playing to strengths, working on weaknesses- no excuses for them!
- Each player is chosen for how they will fit with others
- They train hard and give 100%
- Team members watch out for each other (I Corinthians 10:24)
- They may get hurt, but they always get back in game when needed
Back to watching the World Cup during our European vacation for a minute. We were in a restaurant with people from all different countries in Europe. There were French, Swiss, Italians, Germans, etc. It was fascinating to sit there with everyone- not understand a word of what they were saying, but I learned a lot.
"Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching."