Monday, June 23, 2008

How Should the Church Be? Part 5

You can see the others here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4. For this fifth post I will say that the church need to be "Intentionally Unified." The church is to be made up of people from all different backgrounds with different gifts and with different personalities. Last night at our small group with Christ Baptist Church Pastor Justin Childers led us in a discussion through the book What is a Healthy Church. This is a very good small book that everyone should read. One of the points that Justin emphasized was how the gospel is displayed when a bunch of sinners who have been reconciled to God and each other through the cross of Christ can actually get along, forgive, and love one another with all their differences. I think he's exactly right. The church is to display the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ to this dark world by living out the gospel together. But don't take his word or my word for it. Listen to how Jesus says this in John 17:20-26 when He prays for His church.

I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that they world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. I made know to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.
The way the world will know that Jesus Christ is the Messiah sent from God is when His church is unified as one like He and the Father are one. This will not be easy! But the Bible never says that it's easy to be a follower of Christ. Can you imagine a church that is ethnically, socially, economically, educationally, giftedly, and a thousand other ways diverse and unified? This is the radical call of the church. We must strive for unity so that the world will believe. The gospel is at risk when we will not unite as one.

5 comments:

BillyB said...

Jesus prayed that the Father would unify the church.

We are foolish to think that we can do it on our own. Pray constantly for unity. The Spirit in us will unify us, when we allow the Spirit to do His work.

Our congretations are full of lost people and that is where our greatest hindrance to unity arises. Unity will most assuredly come as we evangelize our congregations through sound preaching and individual inreach. Our lives will reflect Christ and the Power of Christ in us will reach the lost and bring the unity that Jesus prayed for us.

Thank you Jesus!

Randy said...

Billy,

I want to make sure I don't misunderstand you. Can you elaborate on who you are calling the congregation? Obviously, if they are lost, they are not to be part of the church (membership). Certainly the gathering of the church will always include lost people (children, visitors, etc.), but shouldn't church discipline remove those who are lost who have somehow become members? Since we Baptist are congregationalist, it demands that we have only regenerate church members. Otherwise, how can a lost person help make spiritual decisions for the church? I would like to hear you elaborate some more. I may have missed your point completely.

Randy said...

And let me add an Amen to the fact that we cannot do this. It is absolutely the work of God in our lives and in His church to accomplish unity.

BillyB said...

When I say congregation, I mean the local group of people who meet under the name they have chosen; for instance First Baptist Church, Englewood Baptist Church, etc. etc. When I say Church, I mean all born again believers past, present, and future; the bride of Christ.

Certainly you acknowledge that our congregations are full of people who are not Christians.

Regarding discipline. All discipline in the Bible is directed toward redeeming the lost. If ultimately church discipline brings us to the conclusion that a person is not a Christian, the Bible says we should treat them like a gentile (heathen). The question then becomes, how do we treat heathens (lost people), we witness to them the Gospel, Jesus came and died to redeem us from our sin so that we may have life, abundant, eternal.

The way I see it, the Church is alive and well within our congregations, even the deadest of congregations.

Non-Christians should, as you said have NO PART in making spiritual decisions. But the fact remains that our congregations have lost people in them. That, in my opinion, is why the church should be Pastor led, Deacon served, and congregationally affirmed. Spiritual decisions in the Church should be made by the spiritual leader of the church, the Pastor. He is the one who has devoted himself to prayer and study. If he indeed is called by God to be the leader of a particular congregation (which includes the Church) then the Church, who is Spiritual also will affirm the Spirit's leading. Division arises when lost people have an opportunity to be a part of the decision making process.

Back to the original topic of unity. If we are one in the Spirit, there is unity. That is why it is so important that the Church display unity, that even the lost will know that Jesus is Lord, and perhaps follow.

BillyB said...

I hope I'm not coming across as judgemental or condescending. That is not my purpose. I just want to share what I have learned over these 40+ years of walking with the Lord. I praise Jesus that He has saved my soul and allowed me to be His friend, to the glory of God, through the Spirit. If anything I say is misunderstood or mistyped (a real danger in blogging) may God correct it in your minds and mine.