I'm a Part of the What?
By Daniel Pann
The church is the only living, breathing, spirit filled entity comprised of born again believers. What makes us so unique is the presence of God's Holy Spirit. Only the body of Christ can lay claim to this. A local church, (assembly) does not automatically fit into that category. A name and a sign does not always designate the indwelling Spirit of God, nor is it the different classes of people who worship there.
Someone said the ground is level at the foot of the cross and so it is. Doctors, housewives, lawyers, bus drivers and presidents all share the same need, that being a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Not only do believers come from all walks of life, their personalities are just as diverse.
Consider the outgoing mother of three. She bubbles over with enthusiasm, never seems to be in distress. Maybe it's because she's seen it all from messy diapers to that evening's dinner regurgitated onto the carpet. Then there's the new one, not sure of how to act in a house of worship, when to stand up and when to sit down. How loud is too loud when singing and who put all the "thee's" and "thou's" in the Bible. One more thing; did the disciples really have cars back then. Acts says they were in one accord.
How do we minister to these opposites? Let's forget for a moment the churchgoer. What about those disgruntled souls weary of organized religion who want nothing more than to worship God in spirit and in truth, but will not darken the church door due to wounded hearts and rejected service.
True, we are seeing a falling away in the last days as was predicted by Scripture, but our sidelines are becoming increasingly full as discouraged Christians are wondering what part of the abundant life wasn't grasped. It would seem the godly community has passed them by for one perceived failure or another, all the while clamoring for more workers and volunteers.
Are we right in enlisting the services of anyone regardless of their past? What about forgiveness and restitution? I John 1:9 says, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness." What is the criteria for service?
A child of God is to be faithful unto death. As long as we occupy space on earth, our light is to shine. Luke 2:49 records Jesus' response after his parents went looking for him. "Wist ye not, that I must be about my father's business?" Luke 9:51 says Jesus "steadfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem." John 14:31 tells of his desire to be obedient, "as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do." At the cross Jesus uttered these words, "It is finished." (John 19:30) Jesus was a starter and finisher. We should do no less.
How does this relate to the church as a local body? There will always be opportunities to serve, our roles can and do change because of personal choices or unfortunate circumstances. God's Word is clear on who should lead his flock and who would be a right hand man. It's when we try to make the Truth fit our desires and interpretation that believers get into trouble.
A young man told of being asked to lead a youth class. Problem was, he wasn't a Christian himself, so how could he speak of Jesus' love without having tasted it personally? What examples of an intimate walk with God could be given when their steps had never intertwined?
Most of us would like to think we pray, but how many actually talk to God? Scriptures indicate only those who are his children can come boldly unto the throne of grace. (Hebrews 4)
One's personality is important only to God. He alone can take a Moses and make him a leader. No one but God is capable of turning Saul into Paul. The violin of our lives can only be tuned by a master musician and when played with tender loving hands, the results cause heaven to rejoice.
Yes, the church is comprised of happy, healthy people. On the other side are hurting, hungry folk. Each one needs the opportunity to experience God's fullness and joy of service. If the body of Christ does not reach out to help these desiring obedience and growth, who will?
Dr. Daniel Pann pastors in southern Michigan. He and his wife Cindy, enjoy their adult children and two grandchildren. You can write to Daniel care of the Letters page of this magazine.
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