On Sunday mornings over the last month we have spent a good bit of time talking about God’s grace and love for mankind, and how he saved us through the death of Jesus. God’s grace is the basis of our salvation; and it is the basis of everything we have and enjoy.
Another of God’s greatest blessings he has given is his church, yet many do not see the church as being the blessing God intended for it to be. God gave the church to encourage one another in the body; to be his hands and feet to a broken, suffering world. He gave the church to tell the lost about his love, and to spread the good news of Jesus to the world. The church is to be the light to the world and the salt of the earth. Years ago the church was the central focus of a community, and much good was done for those in the community as well as those in the church.
Sometimes, though, a church loses the focus that Jesus gave it and becomes focused on itself. If the church does not reach out to the world, it fails to do what God intended for it to do (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16; Acts 8:4). If we fail to share the gospel, then we become complicit in the lost losing their only chance to be saved. We need to realize that we are culpable when we fail to share the gospel with others. We must all regain the focus of sharing the gospel with others and helping them to know the saving grace of God through Jesus Christ.
And, sadly, many have left the church because their commitment was not what it needed to be; because of church problems, or because it is not looked at as a blessing. When the church only looks at ourselves and what we can get from the church, but are not encouraging, supporting, forgiving, and loving, we are not the hands and feet of Jesus. Many have left the church saying that it is a place where “judgmental” Christians meet. Many have argued that Christians do not live up to their calling. Denominational churches are closing all of the time; as are churches of Christ.
One of the ways this has become so clear is by looking at attendance records. Attendance is dropping all of the time – especially on Sunday nights. (We won’t even discuss Wednesday nights).
Some have argued that we have bound on Christians something the Lord never bound in having Sunday evening worship services. Others point out that if Sunday evenings were never commanded by God, one will not lose their souls on something God did not command. Hence, they therefore are optional. But is this valid? Can we worship God together as a church too much?
Some churches have gone to only one service per Sunday, but are striving to limit even that time that Christians meet. Many years ago, there would only be one meeting per Sunday (or even every other Sunday, when a preacher would ride in on horseback and preach to different communities). But these meetings would last nearly all day, with dinner on the grounds after the meeting. They were not in a hurry – this was a time of fellowship and communion – not something to be rushed or hurried. They were spending time with God and one another.
Have we allowed the world to dictate to us how long we should serve our God? Athletic activities (either taking our children to practice or games, or the times the games come on television) cut into time for worship and Bible study – work demands more and more from us – and we lose our souls while we are trying to keep up with the world. The attention span of so many now has becoming negligible– we struggle to even come to worship with God’s saints, and when we come, we do not spend time with one another – “last ones in and first ones out!” Then we wonder why we struggle with our faith – and it takes something big (financial troubles or major illness, maybe even the death of a loved one) to cause us to think about God!
Granted, this is a pessimistic view of the church – but we have to look honestly at a problem before we see the need to address the problem. Here are some things to remember:
Remember that God is in charge of his church and he will make sure that his church will survive. While many are pessimistic, he started his church and will be with it till the end of the age (Matthew 18:20).
As we look at the epistles written by Paul, John and Peter we know that the churches of the first century had their problems as well. Christians do not always live up to their calling. Thankfully, as we examine these letters, we know that God gives us the answers to problems we will face in all of them. As we apply these things, we are being the church God wants us to be. We become more like him; we strive to solve problems as he would. God will not leave his church as long as his church will continue to strive to obey him.
Our response – Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness. Seek to do HIS will above our own. Seek to be HIS disciples on HIS terms, not ours.
May the church be what God intended for her to be – his bride, doing HIS will! TOMMY
THE DEATH OF MR. MIDWEEK SERVICE
We are sorry to announce the passing of Mr. Midweek Service. He died recently at the Neglected church on “Ho Hum Avenue.” Born many years ago in the midst of a great revival, he was strong and healthy as a child, fed largely on zeal and Bible study he grew into a world-wide prominence and was one of the most influential members of the church family.
However, in recent years Mr. Midweek Service has been failing in health, gradually wasting away until rendered helpless by stiffness of knees, cooling of the heart, lack of spiritual sensitivity and concern for spiritual things. His last whispered words were inquiring about the strange absence of his loved ones, now so busy in the market place and places of worldly amusement.
Experts, including Dr. Indifference, Dr. Apathy and Dr. T.V. Primetime disagree as to the fatal cause of his final illness. They all administered large doses of excuses, even ordered a last minute motivational bypass, all to no avail. A post-mortem examination showed a deficiency of regular spiritual food, a lack of prayer and Christian fellowship, all contributed to his untimely death.
Also we have been informed that his wife, Mrs. Sunday Evening Service, has just been admitted to the local hospital. Preliminary indications from Dr. Unconcerned states that the diagnosis is similar to her husbands. It appears at this point to be terminal. Let’s all be praying for her.
SNAKES AND SUNDAY MORNINGS
A middle-aged woman was sitting in her den when suddenly a small snake crawled across the floor and under her couch. The dear lady, who was deathly afraid of snakes, promptly ran to the bathroom to get her husband who was taking a shower. The man of the house came running from the shower to the den with only a towel around his waist. He took an old broom handle and began poking under the couch to get the snake.
At that point, the family dog awoke and became excited. In his frenzy over the actions of the husband, the little terrier touched his cold nose to the back of the man’s heel. Instead of realizing what had happened, the man surmised that the snake had out-maneuvered him and bitten him on the heel. He fainted dead away.
The wife sprang into action. She concluded that her husband, because of the physical exertion over trying to kill the snake had had a heart attack. She ran from the house to the hospital emergency room that was a block away.
The ambulance drivers arrived promptly and placed the man, who was now semi-conscious, on a stretcher. As the attendants were carrying the man out of the den, the snake reappeared from beneath the couch. At this point, one of the ambulance people became so excited on seeing the snake that he dropped his end of the stretcher and broke the leg of the husband.
Of course, this all happened on a Sunday morning, about eleven o’clock, when the family should have been in church. Now I realize that church might not have helped, but it sure wouldn’t have hurt. See you in church Sunday. Via Bulletin Digest
“And let us consider…” (Hebrews 10:24-25; Galatians 5:14,22)