The word translated “church” in Greek is ‘ekklesia’ which means an assembly of people called out. It is as if God calls people out from the world and they assemble together as the Lord leads.
Now as Christians, we are called by God to “love one another”, “serve one another”, “exhort one another” and so forth, and these things cannot be done in isolation. You can’t live out the Christian life without developing committed relationships with other believers.
A lot of people like a religious system where they go to a meeting place, sing some nice praise songs with excellent musical accompaniment, hear an inspiring message hopefully drawing on the Bible, and go home. Once home, they can get on with the things they need to do to maintain a reasonable level of physical existence – such as eat, sleep, get educated and work, and then perhaps spend some time on their personal interests – watching sport, playing computer games, browsing the internet, or listening to popular music, for example.
The religious system will offer a few more activities catered to various age groups, and can keep people quite occupied. This is “average Christian living” as I see it practiced in the western world.
Its pretty well established that if you can create an organisation which meets people’s needs for personal encouragement, entertainment, friendship and good music, if you are a good event manager or can hire someone who is, you can get a lot of people involved in your “church”.
But really, is this what it is all about?
I suggest that we should never lose sight of some key facts. These facts should always be before our mind no matter what we are doing.
FACT # 1.
God’s purpose is that I become like Jesus Christ.
What does that mean? It means, amongst other things – that I care for the needs of others, that I trust God for material provision and the provision of everything else I need, that I can hear and obey the voice of the Spirit of God, that I value truth above expediency and that I live to please God and not myself.
It means that I should be committed to destroying the works of the devil, reconciling people to God, and living a pure life.
If a church is not seriously aiming at helping in God’s purpose of achieving THAT – then that church is seriously MISSING THE MARK and it is better to find a church, if possible, that at least AIMS for this.
FACT # 2.
We are commanded to love God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength, and our neighbour as ourselves. This means that both our thought life and our deeds should always be glorifying to God and seek to please God. We can do that while through loving our neighbour – seeking their spiritual, emotional, physical and mental good in such ways that reflect the fruit of the Holy Spirit – love, peace, joy, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
We don’t know HOW to do the above properly and we don’t have the power in ourselves. We need therefore first to connect with God and then “abide in Jesus Christ” as we learn to “hear the voice of Him who speaks” – that is, God the Holy Spirit.
It is only by knowing the voice of the Spirit of God that we can perfectly fulfil the commands to love God and love others as God would want.
It is therefore the job of church leaders, spiritual fathers, equippers and “five-fold ministers” (Ephesians 4:11) to help people to become good at hearing the voice of God.
Now seriously, how much effort does your pastor put into encouraging you to hear God’s voice for yourself?
Its a “dangerous thing” to have people who think they know God, after all. Much better and safer to get people to a certain religious standard and then tell them that “all is well”.
But God longs for fellowship with his children. He wants us to know the difference between His voice, the voice of our own hearts, and the voice of evil spirits.
He wants us to hear Him through His Word, the Bible, but also through the voice of His Spirit in our hearts.
This is only possible when we lay down our lives before Him and are willing to do whatever He shows us is right.
Satan is opposing all this, so it is vital that WE work on encouraging one another, and helping one another to discern the voice of God.
When we come to know God, we are going to see many miracles and answers to prayer.
We are also going to be effective in destroying the works of the devil.
Many times, religious systems become focused on the money and the mechanics of ministry. It can easily become all about offerings, building funds, church programs and the like. But what is needed more than ever, is a community of people who care about God’s purposes, want to help each other become like Jesus and help those who don’t know God to be reconciled to God.
If you can’t find a church that is like this, try to find at lesat one other Christian who thinks like this. Spend time with this Christian weekly, at least on the phone or internet, working together on these goals. From there, God can add others as the Lord leads.
There are a lot of church people who just want to be “average”. They don’t want the risk and adventure that comes with really knowing God. We should not choose these people as our closest friends, as they will only bring us to a low spiritual level.
If you can’t find anyone in your local area to encourage you to be a strong Christian, I would like to do it myself through the net, as long as we both have sufficient time.
I believe we need to pray for one another more. In the 21st century, geography is not the big factor in who you can have a meaningful relationship with. I have friends in many continents who I relate with on a weekly basis through the internet.
But if you can find people locally, you are blessed. I pray God will help you to impact your local community with the Word of God, and that the power of the Spirit of God be with you.
So, in summary, look for a church that equips you to be like Jesus, to destroy the works of the devil, and that cares about others.