Article # four: Your Christian Community (Part 1)
It makes good sense to know the spiritual condition of the christian community in which you live. Because its condition affects your condition. Bear with me as we look at four christian communities. First the
G a l a t i a n s : Paul was angry at the Galatians for “turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel,” and the Judaizers who led them astray – “I could wish that those who trouble you would even cut themselves off (mutilate themselves)!” Next we will consider the
T h e s s a l o n i a n s : This church was different. Paul wrote of their “work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.” They were evangelistic: “From you the word of the Lord sounded forth, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place.” They were drawing closer to Christ: “Your faith grows exceedingly, and the love of you all abounds toward each other.” And now the third,
M y c h r i s t i a n c o m m u n i t y : The spiritual state of my city is above average. From here, many have gone out to the nations; perhaps every nation has been visited by at least one from my community. And people regularly come from various nations to minister. However, I have no doubt my city has more in common with the Galatians than the Thessalonians.
Most sunday services are, to be charitable, less than exciting; none (that I know of) are led by the Holy Spirit. As in most cities, the body of Christ is divided into the clergy (or ministerial) and the laity, the special and not-so-special. Though acquainted with many christians, I do not know one who embraces the Bible as his or her sole authority. Not one. Those intent on fulfilling the high calling in their lives are few.
Sadly, most are content with their bland religious diet. (Happily, there is a rising discontent with the same old, same old.) The many local evangelical churches are built on, structured after, the sands of traditionalism rather than the rock of Christ’s sayings. Most have replaced the lordship of Christ with the lordship of man. Jesus, mostly, is ignored, in church and out. Signs and wonders and miracles occur elsewhere. I would have to put my christian community in the “They don’t want Him (enough)!” crowd. And now number four,
Y o u r c h r i s t i a n c o m m u n i t y : I don’t know which of the above is most akin to your town or city. But can you see the importance of you knowing?
If you lived in Galatia many years ago, what do you think would become of you? Chances are you would be Joe Average Galatian. Not good. But if you were attached to the Thessalonians a flame for Christ would be flickering in your heart.
You are, to a large extent, a product of your spiritual community. You assimilate (absorb). You are influenced by who you sit under, gaze upon, associate with. If your people are, as the Thessalonians, believing believers (and not unbelieving believers) chances are you are one also. If Galatian unbelief has gripped your people, it probably has your heart as well.
You must realize you can’t get more of Christ from people who do not want more of Christ. It is most important where you place your ears – both belief and unbelief are contagious. Words affect. Words produce after themselves. Both the fervent and the lukewarm have babies.
A. W. T o z e r : The truth is that for better or for worse religious people follow leaders. (God Tells the Man Who Cares)
A. W. T o z e r : “Like priest, like people,” sums up in four words a truth taught plainly in the Scriptures and demonstrated again and again in religious history. (God Tells the Man Who Cares)
J a m e s : We put bits in horses’ mouths and we turn their whole body. Look also at ships: although they are so large and are often driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires. Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles! (James 3:3-5)
Words are packed with power. Words entering your ears slide down to your heart. “Keep your heart with all diligence.” I recently heard of a preacher who said, “If you’re not being fed in your church, get out.” That’s good. Never heard a preacher say that before. Amen and amen!
Galatians don’t make Thessalonians. “They don’t want Him (enough)!” christians can only make “They don’t want Him (enough)!” christians.
It makes good sense to assess the spiritual condition of your christian community. You assess by listening. It’s really not that difficult.
I can hear the frustration and concern: But what do I do? Where do I go? I will lose my friends. The church down the road is not much better.
We get ourselves into a lot of complications, but the answer to every problem is always simple. The answer is (faith in) Jesus Christ. Yes, simple, but not easy. If you want easy stay where you are. Committing yourself fully to Christ and His words (the Bible) will bring problems you never had before. “All who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.” Christ never said His way was easy; He repeatedly said otherwise.
You have been given the Holy Spirit who “will guide you into all truth.” All truth includes where you hang out. Submit to the governorship of the Holy Spirit and He will govern.
You see, you don’t have to do anything except what Christ, who communicates through His Holy Spirit, tells you to do. Your ability to see the problem with all its ramifications is limited. His is perfect. You must know you can’t and He can. You can get yourself into a negative predicament, but you can’t get yourself out. Remind yourself who is the lord of your life. Remind yourself who is the head of the church. If you are outside His will, if your relationship with Him has deteriorated, if you have placed yourself under inferior ministry – “Jesus, get me out of this mess!”
“Ask, and it will be given to you.” Don’t ask, and it won’t be given to you. You need God’s grace to get out of any bad scene you get into. Peter taught us how to get this grace.
P e t e r : God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God. (1Peter 5:5,6)
Grace comes with humility. “Humble yoursel(f) under the mighty hand of God” and you will receive sufficient grace. Jesus will straighten out your life according to your faith. It might take a while, but He will bring you into the Father’s will for your life.
C h a l l e n g e : There is more! More life, more purpose, more fruit. Relationally, more of Christ. But there is a price. What will you exchange (give up) for Christ?
P r a y e r : Lord Jesus, if this message is pleasing in Your sight, take it here and take it there, to this brother and that sister, this town and that city, this nation and that nation. May the reader, so precious to You, be taught by the Holy Spirit to love You more. May he, may she, want You….. enough. From the shadow of the cross. (And hopefully the reader says, “Amen.”)