What are your Expectations of Church?

What exactly is church? Is it a building, is it the people, is it the representation of the body of Christ? I would submit to you that it is all of these things. So if this is the case and the church is represented as such then what should we find within the church? Paul in his letter to the Ephesians said this…

Ephesians 4:4-6
There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

So if we are all one, working together in unity, then what does that look like? How is the body built to create unity? The reality is that there is a difference between a Christian and a pre-Christian, this is by design. We are called to live a holy life, but this does not happen overnight. As a Christian community we need to be a place where non-believers feel welcome and encouraged to come to seek out the answers that they are looking for, but we also need to be a place where all people within the body can grow and can work together to strengthen and encourage one another. Sometimes this means that we need to get down in the mess with people when their lives turn messy. So with this being said, what exactly do you think the church should look like? What should the living body of Christ look like? Please be respectful in your comments, but also be open in honest. I look forward to hearing what you all have to say and pray that this would be an encouraging and uplifting forum for us all to take a look at how our involvement fits within the context of unity within the body.

Blessings,
Jeremy

Living a Life of Comfort

I was thinking about my life today and how I really have it pretty good. God has blessed my life immensely. I do not live in want; we have a roof over our head, we have full bellies, and we have no real substantial worries about anything. My wife and I are able to help people as we feel led to do so through the grace of God. All in all we are able to live a fairly comfortable life, but are we supposed to? Does comfort equate to easy? If we are living life on the easy track than are we really doing what God has called us to do? If we never have hardships can we really know God in all the depths of His glory?

Revelation 3:15-17
I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm-neither hot nor cold-I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked.

Have we become so comfortable in our life that we have become like the church in Laodicea prophesied about above? Have we become lukewarm to the point where God is ready to spit us out of His mouth? I know in my life I can say that I often times try to do everything that I can to be comfortable. This occurs with me at work, at home, and even in the public. I become so focused on having a “good day” without much stress or turmoil that I think I often times lose sight of what God is trying to do around me and through me. By living a life of comfort we are just like the church of Laodicea. God has not called us to live in comfort, in fact He specifically says that we will be persecuted just as Christ was persecuted because “no servant is greater than his master” (Jn. 15:20). When I speak of living in comfort I don’t mean contentment because they are two very different things, we can learn to be content in all things regardless of our economic or social status (Phil. 4:11-13), but comfort speaks directly to whether or not we are taking risk for God.

Satan wants us to be comfortable, he doesn’t want us to live a life of fear, because fear drives people to Christ. It seems contrary to what we think about Satan, but he wants us to be as comfortable in our lives as possible. He knows that comfort is what we typically look for, but comfort is a deception from Satan himself. Comfort is contrary to the contentment that we learn from trusting in God. As Christians we do not have to, and should not, live in a life of comfort, but in all things we should rejoice.

Phil. 4:4-7
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Through Christ we have gained everything, but it does not end there. We cannot fall into the trap of believing that once we are saved the work is done. In fact when we are saved our work has just begun. Just think about the countless number of people God placed in the path of your life to direct you towards Him before you received Christ. We are all members of the body of Christ and we each have an important role to fill. No one is greater than the other, but working together we bring the fullness of Christ into this world (1 Cor. 12:12-31).

So, are you living a life of comfort? If so do you really know the one True God or have you been deceived by the master deceiver who wants you all to himself? We are not called into comfort, we are called into obedience “for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose” (Phil. 2:13). So re-examine your life and determine if God is working in you and through you and do this often. If He is working in you then you will not simply sit back in comfort, “He will transform you through the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is-his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Rom. 12:2).

When we truly know what God’s will is we cannot simply sit back in the comfort of our own life, we MUST take action. We MUST bring the light to the rest of the world who have been lied to and deceived just like we once were. We MUST spread the Gospel message through love and perseverance. We must NOT be conformed “to the pattern of this world” Rom. 12:2. The world, ie. Satan, wants you to live in comfort, he wants you to live for yourself, he wants you to do everything that you can to make sure that you are taken care of. When he gets you to do this he makes you ineffective. He turns you into a bench-warmer, a non-player, he makes you lukewarm. Don’t let him make you ineffective, the body needs you and you need the body.

Father we thank you that we are yours and not Satan’s. Help us to become highly effective Christians who truly live out the purpose that you have placed on our lives. Show us where we have been deceived by the enemy into thinking that we need to be comfortable in life to be happy. Teach us to be content in all things and to Rejoice! Father, we desperately long for you and your touch in our life. Teach us how to grow in faith and how to strengthen the body by multiply and edifying the body. Give us your heart so we can feel what you feel out those around us, give us your eyes so that we can see their pain and sorrow first hand, give us your feet so that we move into action, and give us your hands to care for all those we encounter. We do not want to be spit out, so revive us! Remind us what it was like when we first came to know you. Build a fire in our soul that is in-content with living a life of comfort. Transform our entire being into what you want us to be. Father, we love you and want to make you proud. Thank you so much for the opportunity to be your children. Thank you for making us clean through the blood of your Son who died on the cross so that we may live and we thank you that He rose again so that we could have life eternal with you. It is in Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.