The Church (part six: your friend)

A river is purest at its source, and so we learn what the church is to be by studying the New Testament pattern. Acts 2:42, “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.”

Church can be an enemy; church can even be neutral. Neither are what God intended. Here are some ways you can make sure the church is your friend, not your foe.

1. Make a commitment to be there every week.

People come up with great excuses. They will say, “I worshipped on the golf course.” They must play better than me because when I play I get to see a lot of God’s creation, woods, rough, lakes, sand.

Hebrews 10:25 reminds us, “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

The early New Testament church met throughout the week, even during some periods meeting on a daily basis in homes. The Bible tells us to pray, to study Scriptures, to partake of the Lord’s Supper, and to give offerings.

2. Participate with the right attitude.

Have the right attitude when you are there. Worship is not a chance for you to judge and pick apart everything. It is an opportunity to soak in the spiritual and biblical teaching and to be fulfilled through fellowship and encouragement. Go to church to participate, not evaluate.

3. Make an effort to serve.

Love and service go hand in hand. Both can dramatically affect your attitude and have incredible benefits for the church. Get involved.

If people do not serve at our church, light bulbs would go out and never be changed. Weeds would overtake the landscape. The Word of God would not be taught to children, and lives would not be changed. Marriages would not be salvaged. Rebellious teens would not find loving individuals with the strength and support to follow through with tough love. People would not be surrendering their lives to Christ. The church without servants would be a very empty building. Indeed, the church without you is just another building.

Someone has defined the scene at a football game as follows: “50,000 people who desperately need exercise watch 22 people who desperately need to rest.” Sometimes that accurately describes the 21st century Church. Too many Christians sit and watch the action without ever becoming a part of the action.

4. Make it a habit to invite others.

The followers of Jesus are required to go into politics, into business, into homes, into education. The purpose of the gospel is to penetrate the whole of common life.

5. Pray for the church.

Pray for the leaders, the members, and their impact in the community. They/we/I need it—desperately. Paul conveyed the message in 2 Thessalonians 3:1, “Finally, brothers and sisters, pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honored, just as it was with you.”

L.L. Parrott said, “What the church needs is more action, less factions, more workers, fewer shirkers, more backers, fewer slackers, more fasting, less feasting, more praying, less playing.”

Prayer is the power that propels the church to truly be the body of Christ.

6. Live a life that honors God and His Church.

Have you ever been out driving and you see a really unique car? I mean a classic old-time car, or a really beautiful sports car, or even a limousine? You know, cars that just stick out like a sore thumb, except instead of being a sore thumb, we’d like to see it in our garage.

That begs the question: How obvious is it to others that you are a Christian? Just as a classic is distinctive in a sea of cars, do you stand out among people?

Like it or not, people are walking up and taking a closer look at you to see if your actions match your beliefs. They are checking under the hood of your life. Double-mindedness turns churches into enemies. God doesn’t need that, and your community doesn’t need that, because it sends a mixed message. 1 Peter 2:12 says, “Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.”

Author George McDonald says, “Don’t tell me what you believe about God or even what you think you believe. Tell me what you didn’t do today that you wanted to do, but you didn’t because you love God. And tell me what you did do because you love God.”

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