Thursday, December 3, 2015

The Church: Defining its Nature

The Church as a community of believers
The community of believers that I am a part of is one of God's most very dearly loved and practical gifts to me. Maybe it is tied to that perfect written work that says "If anyone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen." (1 John 4:20, ESV). The ability to love those around us is also knowing how to love God and His creations.
Something about the able to be in a real presence of a community of believers who insist on being there for me, to deposit bits of their knowledge, makes an actual effect on me. Maybe that seems like a given on the surface--that someone invading my personal space would affect me--but it is the very fact that they are there which communicates that the church does, in fact, care about people. However, There are some Christian churches that many of us have experienced in our life that are focused primarily on words. We stressed the paramountcy of edifying and preaching the gospel limpidly--most of it within the church and for the church. Commodity works were inspired as a replication to the gospel and as a way of saying "thank you" to God's image for his mercy. What this perspective lacks is an agreement of discipleship.
Psalm 138 is one of many Biblical references that speak of our grouping together, coming to God's house to worship. David verbally expressed he had elicited himself from his way to bow afore the Lord's holy temple, to be at church building with the community of interests of believers. In the same breath, he verbalized about giving thanks for God's constant love and faithfulness.
While the enemy will try to separate us from the communities of believers based on shared interests and learning opportunities--we can always stay home and watch church on TV or the Internet—but nothing can substitute for someone verbalizing, "I missed you, how are you doing?" When we are traveling a very hard road, "Two are better than one" (Eccl. 4:9, ESV), for if one trip while walking and makes a mistake, the other is there to hoist him up. Our vigor is being bound together.
If I were to summarize Psalm 138:4-6, I would verbally express: God's greatness is unchangeable and existing everywhere. Indeed, as Romans 1 reminds us, this is evident through His inanimate creation. However, how much greater is the evidence, and how much more significant and related to my life, when I visually perceive it in my fellow believers? God recollects and utilizes the humble, and that daily life that are so plenary of statements to His saving grace and faithfulness keep me connected to my Savior when I might otherwise lose my way.
In smaller churches, many of the people in the audience are related, have known each other their whole lives, and live close to each other. In smaller crowds, the problem is often not the frequency of meeting, but the lack of Christ in the community of believers. Donald Barnhouse gives his idea entirely in his response to the question, "What would a city look like if it were ruled by Satan?" by saying,
"He said that all of the bars and pool halls would be closed, pornography banished, pristine streets and sidewalks would be occupied by tidy pedestrians who smiled at each other. There would be no swearing. The kids would answer "Yes, sir," "No, ma'am," and the churches would be full on Sunday ... where Christ is not preached." (The Gospel Coalition)
Much like the City that ruled by Satan, our time together is frequent, our lives come across as immaculate, but our community is missing Christ. The members of small churches often meet, their conversations are very familiar, but they are losing the gospel.
Larger churches must follow and obey this lack of the community either. Although a large church may have enough events or programs to keep its doors open seven days a week, it could still require the true Biblical community of interests. So what does Biblical community look like to others, and how are so many of us missing it?
The Biblical community begins with the regular fellowship of the believers. All too often we settle for attending our weekly services, leaving, and then going about our lives as mundane. A typical day to day fellowship with other believers is the life history of a believer in the New Testament. In the book of Acts, the theme of a daily fellowship based on shared interests is brought up. In Acts 2 we can see it happening again in a predictable way of their community when Luke said,
"And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.  Moreover, awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles.  Moreover, all who believed were together and had all things in common. Moreover, they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had a need.  Moreover, day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. Moreover, the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved." (Acts 2:42-47 ESV)
The believers were not just attending events at a church building but were living livelihood life together. Notice that Gospel According to Luke also points out that these believers were regularly eating meals repast together. This is not our church's quarterly potluck. The believers were regularly having each other into their homes for food and fellowship. Our church seems too busy to experience this character of kinship, and we have so many programs going on that our church, which the people in the audience, does not have the time to spend with each other. Not only are we too busy with each other, but we try to space others from our personal space. I recently faced with a question, "When was the last time I had someone over at my house for food and fellowship?" Often I think we try to distance our church family from our personal lives. We long for more community with the members of our church, but we do not want it to intrude into our personal lives. These early Christian were combining other things with the church into their personal space, and the result was gospel change. We could say our time spent with those within our church as satisfying holy written work's description of the community.
Although the frequency of gathering is crucial for the Biblical community, it does not end there. These believers were giving themselves to the teaching of the apostles. Holy written work was the focal point of their fellowship. The early Christians were loyal to the community that centered on Christ and his words. We spend a great deal of our time with those from our church gathering, but is Christ the thing that fills our conversations? For a Biblical community to happen, our communications need to reflect Paul's active encouragement to the church of Colossae. When he says, "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God." (Col 3:16 ESV)
I do not mean that every conversation must somehow force Christ into it, but I do honor that Christ should not be a minority or omitted altogether. For the genuine Christian community to continue to exist, our conversations must build each other up in Christ. We visually perceive both of these themes brought up later on in Acts when Paul establishes the church of Ephesus. Paul gave three years of his life to his relationship with these people. Luke describes the extent of the relationship between Paul and the church at Ephesus when he notes,
"You yourselves know how I lived among you the whole time from the first day that I set foot in Asia,  serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials that happened to me through the plots of the Jews; how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you in public and from house to house, testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ...Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish everyone with tears." (Acts 20:18-31 ESV)
Paul's departure "When he had finished speaking, he knelt and prayed with them. They all cried as they embraced and kissed him good-bye. They were sad most of all because he had said that they would never see him again." (Acts 20:36-38 ESV). These people are not just casual friends, but they are people who are deeply rooted in Paul's life. We ask ourselves, "Would my community cry at the news that I was moving?" "Would my crowd even notice that I was gone?" I pray these questions drive everyone, as they do me to examine whether we have been chasing after deep, honest, and real relationships with those within our community of believers.
Whether we are members of large or small groups, we all are easily able to be harmed or influenced by the same hazards. We are often blind to the person sitting on the church bench next to us. We must take the time and turn our head, and then interrupt the person's life sitting adjacent to us, whether we want to or not, and develop with them a profound and lasting relationship that comes from Christ, with fellowship.
In the end, With regards to community–those outside the Christian perspective discover shared view in intrigues, causes, political feelings, sports, schools they went to, where they live, occupations, their legacy, their financial status, and so on. These groupings regularly cause immense divisions amongst individuals. In the CHRISTIAN worldview–our equalizer is the Gospel. Christians are bound together by the way that we were all, at one time, dead in our wrongdoings and made alive by God's effortlessness. We all discover shared opinion at the Cross and the penance Jesus done for us. Thus, we can identify a group with individuals whom we would NEVER find a group with something else. It does not make a difference your race, the amount of cash you have, how you smell, where you originate from, what games group you like, your age–we are each of the one in Jesus in light of the fact that we have all accomplished his redeeming grace.
"Not neglecting to meet, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near." (Heb. 10:25, ESV).

Work Cited
Bible Gateway passage: Acts 2:42-47 - New International Version (Bible Gateway) Web.,
March 2015
Bible Gateway passage: Acts 20:18-31 - New International Version (Bible Gateway) Web.,
March 2015
Bible Gateway passage: Acts 20:36-38 - New International Version (Bible Gateway) Web.,
March 2015
Bible Gateway passage: Colossians 3:16 - New International Version (Bible Gateway) Web.,
March 2015
Bible Gateway passage: Ecclesiastes 4:9 - New International Version (Bible Gateway) Web.,
March 2015
Bible Gateway passage: Hebrews 10:25 - New International Version (Bible Gateway), Web.,
March 2015
Bible Gateway passage: 1 John 4:20 - New International Version (Bible Gateway), Web.,
March 2015
 "What I Would Do to the Evangelical Church if I Were Satan | TGC." TGC | The Gospel

Coalition. N.p., n.d. Web. 6 Apr. 2015.