This past week our senior pastor, Rick Goertzen, was in Brazil. This means I had the opportunity to preach in church. I love preaching more than ever. I count it a great privelidge to open the Bible with our church body. And yesterday, I talked about the church body.
Whenever Rick has been gone this year, I have been working my way through a series I have called The Importance of Theology. My point in this series is to show how theology is practical. Theology or doctrine is not something that is meant to increase our minds only, but to help us live the Christian life. In this series, I have been trying to show how certain doctrines should impact us.
Yesterday, the title of my sermon was How the Body of Christ Helps Us. My main idea was "God gave us the church to help us grow to become like Jesus." When we come to faith in Jesus and are saved, we are placed into the body of Christ. In the sermon, we primarily looked at Acts 2:42-47. It was my thought that the closer we get to the early church, we see the purity of what it was called to do. In that passage, we looked at four components of their early church.
They were a Learning Church. They committed themselves to Apostles teaching. As a church, we can do the same when we commit ourselves to the Bible, that was written by the Apostles.
They were a Loving Church. They liked being around each other. They cared for each other. In reality, they were all they had. They sold their land and made sure there were no needs among them. They modeled what the body of Christ is all about. Read 1 Corinthians 12:12-26 for a good description of the body metaphor that Paul uses for the church. That is how they functioned.
They were a Worshipping Church. They broke bread together (probably a reference to the Lord's Supper) and they prayed with each other. They praised the Lord together.
They were an Evangelizing Church. They were trusting the Lord to add to their number every day. But we know that God does not work without our actions. He uses us and He used them.
From the time that Monique and I have been married, the closest we have ever lived to our family has been four hours. I say that because in reality, the church has become our family. We look to our church family for help when things are tough. When we need help with our kids, we go to our church. When we need friendships, we go to our church family. Our church is our family!
I believe in the church. I know that sometimes the church is really messed up. I know that it is often filled with hypocrites, it is boring, it is steeped in rules, and it is unfriendly. I think that is unfortunate, for that is not the way God designed the church to be. He designed it to be a loving, learning, worshipping community of believers that shares the name of Jesus to those outside the church.
There are several application points that I learned as I studied the church last week. One is that we are helped by the church when we are fully engaged in the church. I want to be consumed with the church body and the relationships that are found by the people there. It does not necessarily mean showing up at every meeting, but it means that you are fully engaged with the church.
Another is that the church can't be the church unless we are willing to be helped. I know at times, I am hesitant to share with others what is going on in my life. But when I do that, I prevent the church from being the church. We are only helped by the church when we let our needs be known.
One final point is that we are helped by the church when we use our gifts in the church. It might seem like when we use our gifts, we help others. That is true, but you will grow as you use your gifts in the church.
I love the church that Jesus is building. I hope you do as well. Let's be the church for each other!