We learned last week that many people around us are hurting. They are looking for answers or at least something to take away the pain. The most common “answers” people turn to are: money, possessions, fame, drugs, alcohol, love, and sex. None of these satisfy because none of them can address the root cause of the brokenness: sin. It was our sin that caused us to be estranged from God and only Jesus can heal us because only Jesus can forgive our sin and restore us back to God.
With so many people around us who are hurting, who is going to help? The Lord Jesus Christ said to His disciples: “I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it” (Matt 16:18). What is the Church? The Church is “the people of God who have been saved through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ and have been incorporated into His body through baptism with the Holy Spirit.” The Church is important to Jesus. He died for the Church (Acts 20:28). The Church is Jesus’ Plan (Matt 16:18), Jesus’ Bride (Eph 5:25–27), Jesus’ Body (1 Cor 12:27), God’s Flock (1 Pet 5:2), God’s Building and Field (1 Cor 3:9), and “God’s household…the pillar and foundation of the truth” (1 Tim 3:15).
The Church is Not a Social or Service Club
The Church is not a Social Club. There is nothing inherently wrong with Social Clubs (provided they do not promote sin), but the Church is not a Social Club. Thom Rainer summarized in his book I Am A Church Member the problems with viewing Church membership similarly to membership in a Social Club: “membership is about receiving instead of giving, being served instead of serving, rights instead of responsibilities, and entitlements instead of sacrifices.” The local church is not about us, it’s about Him!
The Church is not a Service Club. There are many Service Clubs that meet the needs of others and promote good in the world. While charitable works are to be commended, the Church’s primary mission is not to do good in the world. The Church certainly wants to do good in the world but that’s not our primary mission. The local church is not an organization that is specifically focused on helping people in need.
We Are the Church
We are different. The Church is by definition distinct from the world. The Church consists of those who have been saved, born again, redeemed, and set apart by God for Himself. The Church consists of Christians who have had their desires, preferences, and affections changed by God. Peter wrote that Christians are to live “as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct” (1 Pet 1:14-15). We are in the world, but we are not of the world. Vance Havner said it this way: “It is one thing for a boat to be in the water, it’s an entirely different matter for the water to be in the boat.” The Church is supposed to be noticeable because it is different from anything else around.
We are healed. One of the primary reasons we are different from the world is because our brokenness has been healed. How are we healed? First, our sins are completely forgiven. In the New Covenant, Jesus is the sacrifice that satisfies the wrath of God. Our sins are remembered no more (Heb 10:17). Second, our identity is fixed. We accept that our true identity is a sinner with a wicked heart (Jeremiah 17:9). Jesus reconciles us to God and we are adopted (Rom 8:15) into God’s family. Third, all our needs are met. Jesus made it clear that God will provide for us and we have no reason to worry (Matt 6:19-34). Fourth, our destination is secured. We have eternal life with the Triune God. When we die we are immediately in the presence of our Lord.
We are healing. One of the first objections that arises after saying that a Christian’s brokenness has been healed by Jesus is: “Why do I still struggle so much?” If our brokenness has been healed, why do we still feel broken? This is because God works to justify and sanctify us. We are justified by grace through faith. Justification is the one-time event where God declares us not guilty of our sin. After we are justified we are in the process of sanctification. Sanctification is described by Stuart Scott as “A lifelong cycle of sin, repentance, renewal, and growth toward Christlikeness that will only be complete when we meet our Lord (Rom.6-8). This is accomplished through the active discipline of the believer himself, who trusts that the Holy Spirit is energizing his efforts (Phil. 2:12-13).”
God is always calling His followers to the next steps of obedience. This week continue to ask God to provide opportunities to be a neighbor to someone around you. Also, take time to prayerfully meditate on your identity in Christ. Ask yourself these questions:
- What does God think about me?
- How does God want me to think, speak, and act?
- What does God say I should do when I am worried and anxious?
- What does God say I should do when I am fearful?
- What does God say I should do with my pride?
- What should I do when someone offends me and/or sins against me?
- What does God want me to do with the remaining years of my life?
- Is there anything that I am refusing to do that God wants me to do?