“Let us aim for harmony in the church and try to build each other up.” (Romans 14:19)
We have spent the last couple of weeks talking about Christian unity (how we are all ONE in Christ Jesus – no matter the banner over our church door) and about why we should be actively involved in a Christ-honoring church (because it IS God’s design for how He desires to work in, and through, us).
This week I just wanted to mention a few basic principles for how we should go about “doing” church once we have committed to being involved.
It’s not just as simple as showing up. We need to see church as a place where God in us can minister to others – and God in them can minister to us.
We go to church for two primary reasons… 1) To express our love for God; and 2) to express our love for our brothers and sisters in Christ.
What I have discovered (through the years) is that the challenge is to keep all obstacles out of our way. The two main reasons we go to church will naturally flow from us (as redeemed people) IF we remove all barriers that get in our way.
So to do church in the manner that pleases God, we need get our hearts right – and to do that… we need to get our minds right. When our minds are centered on God’s truth and God’s ways, our hearts will line up with God’s viewpoint (see Romans 12:2!).
The greatest barriers to loving God and to loving people are found in our preconceptions and misconceptions… or in elevating our preferences to the place of standards that we believe are essential to a “proper” faith (but have virtually no Biblical support).
We might all be shocked at the minor things that become major barriers between us and God – and between us and other believers. Often, these are things that have little to do with Biblical truth (we just think that they do!)
That is why our thinking must align with Scripture. God graciously gave us most everything we need to know about what He likes and dislikes – and about what He truly expects from us. We just have to make certain that our thoughts align with His thoughts.
But that is part of the problem. We recall passages like Isaiah 55:8 where God tells us: “My thoughts are not your thoughts…” and forget that those words are based in the Old Covenant. The New Covenant is based on God’s promise that “I will put My law in their minds and inscribe it on their hearts.” (Jer. 31:33) And the apostle Paul reminds us:
To “do” church right we have to understand that: A) this is Christ’s Church; and B) we are in Christ’s Church to do things Christ’s way (AS He would do them).
Everything begins with the understanding that Jesus has already done everything necessary so that we can live and act just like Him, with whomever is right in front of us.
And especially important to Him, is how we interact with HIS people.