We are called to go according to Matthew 28 and we are to treat everywhere we go as a mission field that Christ is sending us to be a part of. Work, sports, schools and anything you are a part of is for the purpose of being on a mission for Christ. When we change our perspective that Christ has placed us perfectly where He wants us then it will change our view of what we are involved in. You do not live in the state, city, or neighborhood you are in by accident. God has placed you there to be a witness for Him.
Since Christ told us to be on mission or to go then how is the best way to accomplish that?Did Jesus establish a way for us to reach this world? I believe He did when He established the church.
1) The Universal Church
This would be a new concept that went from God abiding in the temple to now God abiding in the people of God. We are now the temple of God.
1 Corinthians 3:16 Do you not know that you[a] are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?
When you go to church, you do not show up at church, you bring the church with you. This concept applies to the universal church where all believers in Christ share the same mission given by Jesus. We are all part of this universal plan that God orchestrates to reach people all over the world.
Jesus promise in Matthew 16:18 is that He will build the church, and no matter how many times people have tried to destroy the church, it will stand till the end of time. In fact, every time the church has experienced persecution it has flourished. It may not seem like it at the time but the good news of Jesus Christ gets spread to more people and the universal church grows.
Notice also that the Gates of Hell or Hades (Death) will not stand against it. Gates are stationary and we are to break them down in order to reach the people that are trapped behind them. Gates are the lies that people believe that trap them in a lifestyle or from knowing Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior.
John 8:32 says; You shall know the truth and the truth will set you free. The problem is people do not realize they are trapped. Like a bird in a cage they think that the life they are living is all there is and so they believe the lie that the life they are living is all there is and that when they die they just die with no hope of an eternal life.
We partner with the universal church to reach this world for Christ and we support as well as suffer with them. Because we are all part of the Universal Church our prayers should be for our Brothers and Sisters in Christ that we will not meet till we get to Heaven.
2) The Local Church
Church means called out ones. ( Assembly, community, or congregation)
If Jesus spoke it in Aramaic then it would have meant an invited gathering. There seems to be people who believe that you do not need to be a part of a local church because they belong to the universal church. The problem is that you cannot grow spiritually on your own. (I cover this more in my blog “Why do I need to go to church”)
The main reason the church in Acts grew so much was because they became so reliant on one another. They came together because they needed that time of fellowship and encouragement. They came together to minister to each other and meet each others needs either socially or physically.
The majority of the New Testament books are written about or to local churches. The belief that the local church is not important goes against the purpose that Jesus established in reaching the world through a local body of believers. Each local church that is established fulfills a purpose that God is using in His reaching out to a world that needs Him.
A) We are created to Work Together
Paul uses the illustration of the body because we all know an eye cannot just up and leave and the rest of the body not be affected by it. There is no such thing as an inactive member in a church just like there is not an inactive body part that does not change how the full body operates. One of the reasons the local church has not been as effective in the communities in which they live is because people have not seen their importance in the body of Christ.
Ephesians 4:15-16 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
We can work together because we get our instructions from Christ. Just like the rest of our body receives its instructions from the brain, so Christ gives us our instructions in order to fulfill His purposes.
You have something to offer the local and the universal body of believers. To think otherwise is to miss the purpose of why God created you. If you do not be you then who will be you? There is no other you like you, and if you do not be you then no one else can be you. So you might as well be the you God created you to be.
Paul goes into protecting the parts of the body that are unseen. There are so many parts of our body that are not seen that can change our day. If you have a bad back then you know what it is like to have sharp pains that can cause you to not be able to walk. This part of my body is not seen but it still is very important to how I will function during the day. I have to care for my back and make sure it is protected because if I do not then I will not function properly.
The same thing happens in a Church where there are so many things that hold the Church together that go unseen. We sometimes only acknowledge those things we see, but there are many more things that are unseen and have to be protected from harm. Finances, background checks, Web design, band practices, phone calls and so forth may go unnoticed but they are vital to the health of the church. This is what Paul was addressing in 1 Corinthians 12 because some of the people were saying some of the gifts were more important than others.
When you see that you are vitally important and that God created you to be you, you will experience joy in what you have to offer the church.
B) We are created for a purpose
2 Corinthians 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.
The things you do on earth will be rewarded or not rewarded in heaven. Evil is not sin but things that are worthless that we do. We will not be rewarded for watching television unless it has some eternal purpose. I do not believe God is going to reward me for all the football games I have watched. So although watching football may not be a sin, it is, for the most part, a worthless activity.
As a Christian your sins are already forgiven but you will be judged on things that were did for Him. So one day you will stand before God and you will wish that you had used your gifts to their fullest ability. Just like the servant with one talent did not use the gift his Master gave him, so we will be surprised when we stand before Him. (See Matthew 25)
Every church needs each person to be who God created them to be and to get involved in what God is doing.
C) We are created to be committed to each other
Acts 2:42-43 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe[a] came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles.
We live in a society that is dominated by the me generation. The question most people ask is “What do I get out of this?” We devote ourselves to what we want to commit and make excuses for what we do not want to do. (Exercise, fishing, hunting, golf, shopping, etc. )
1 Corinthians 12 – 14 is all about the church and 1 Corinthians 13, which is known as the love chapter, is actually written to the church and how we are to treat one another. We are to love people even if they are annoying. We are to be patient with people even if they continue to fail us. Because we do not truly love people we switch churches instead of allowing God to use us in their lives. God has brought people in your life for a reason and more than likely it is so you both grow to be more like Christ.
A commitment will allow you to overcome those things just like the eye may not like the hand but stays committed to it. Whatever church God leads you to join, my encouragement is to make a commitment to it even when it gets hard. Yes, there are reasons to leave a church and especially if God calls you out, but make a commitment and see what happens if you stay through the hard times.
D) We are created to share experiences together
Romans 12:15-16 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly.[a] Never be wise in your own sight.
If my thumb hurts, I do not cut it off I do things to ease the pain. The rest of my body has to do things to make my thumb feel better. I may take pain medication that taste bad that my tongue and stomach have to taste. My tongue and stomach may feel the effects of the medicine and suffer for a little bit in order for my thumb to feel better. My other hand may have to pick up the slack and do more because I need my thumb to heal.
This is why Paul used the image of the body because if one part hurts the rest of the body has to adjust. Ephesians 5:29 says no one hates their own body and that is how we are supposed to feel about the local church we belong to.
“…your church will begin to change. It will become healthier because one of its members is healthier. And as the church gets healthier, it will have a greater impact on its community and the world. (I am a church member, Thom S. Rainer, pg. 7)
See Also John 13:35; Acts 9:3-5
We are better together is not just a slogan but a truth that God teaches us in His Word. Ask God to show you what abilities, Gifts and Talents He has given you to be used in the Church. If you do not belong to a local church I hope that you will pray about joining one where you can grow spiritually and help others grow spiritually as well.