Psalm 1:2-3, “But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season.”
It’s been awhile since I’ve posted an article on here. Many things have been happening in our lives. I’ve asked God from time to time for something to share on here, but nothing came. So I’ve done a lot of pondering, and waiting on Him. Then today, while I was listening to a sermon by Craig Groeschel that I felt God’s nudge to share this…
I’ve found myself over the past few months acutely aware of the problem of idolising churches. People are increasingly worshipping their churches and congregations, rather God – the One worthy of our praise and worship. I’ve encountered people who will fight for the name and reputation of their congregation, far more than they are willing to stand up for the truth of God’s Word.
Have you found yourself in a conversation where you may have heard or said any of the following…
“So what Church do you go to?”, “Who is your pastor?”, “what kind of music do you have?” “I was raised a Baptist, but now I’m Pentecostal” “I can only worship God when these songs are played…these instruments are used…” “Which Church were you baptised in to?” “Are you a Christian? Well, I’m Presbyterian…” “You just don’t agree with me because you don’t like my Church.” Eek.
While I don’t think all those questions or comments are necessarily bad, they can certainly distract us from God’s heart for His Church, Jesus’ bride. And quite possibly if we don’t address it soon, we are at risk of forming more morally therapeutic friendship centres than becoming expressions of God’s Church, the Body of Christ.
I think the real question that matters and reflects God’s heart for His disciples in this situation is…
“Are you planted in Christ?”
Planted you ask? Huh?
A commonly repeated concept we can hear in our church communities is, ” Jesus isn’t just for Sundays, he’s for our whole life, Sunday to Monday, 24 hours…complete saturation.”
As Christians, as followers of Jesus, we don’t merely go to church (lowercase c) – we are the Church (capital C). When we are saved, we receive a new identity in Christ – Church is a part of that identity. We are brothers and sisters in Christ. We are no longer independent people living for ourselves, we are adopted into God’s family (unfathomable really, considering our sin condition!), our roots should go deep down, wrapped around each other, supporting each other, interacting with each other.
We don’t go to church to pew sit, café chat, sing songs, and open the bible or tick the church attendance box on our salvation ballot paper that we somehow think we have to show Jesus when we reach the pearly gates.
Do our hearts know Jesus? Does Jesus know us? Does the body of Christ know us? Do we know the body of Christ?
For biological science with the kids we were looking at living and non-living things last term. Remember the Mrs Gren Pneumonic to help us remember the characteristics of living things? MRS GREN.
Here’s a brief checklist to help us reflect on whether we are planted and living in the body of Christ..
Movement – Do we have a sense of the freedom, liberty and life that we have through and in Christ? Does our church reflect on and celebrate this together?
In Him we live, and move, and have our being. Acts 17:28
Respiratory – Do we know the life that God gives us through Jesus? Do I experience this with the body of Christ I interact with?
For the Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life. Job 33:4
Sensitivity – Are you sensitive to the work of the trinity in your life? Are you sensitive to the areas you need to submit to God’s headship in? Do you rejoice in the Gospel of Jesus and the implications this redemption has on your everyday life? Are you sensitive to the Spirit’s promptings and empowerment in both your trials, and celebrations?
“Your ancestors refused to listen to this message. They stubbornly turned away and put their fingers in their ears to keep from hearing. They made their hearts as hard as stone, so they could not hear the instructions or the messages that the LORD of Heaven’s armies has sent them by his Spirit through the earlier prophets.” Zechariah 7:11-12
Growth – Are you growing in your walk with the Lord? Is He becoming your increasing joy and delight each day? Do you grow together with others from the body of Christ?
“So that you may live a life worthy of the LORD and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God” Colossians 1:10
Reproduction – Are you sharing your faith with others who are not yet saved? Are you discipling others from younger generations? Is the body of Christ preaching the gospel and actively involved in outreach in your community?
The word of God kept on spreading; and the number of the disciples continued to increase greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were becoming obedient to the faith. Acts 6:7
Excretion – Are you regularly repenting of sin, tossing aside the old self and being transformed daily by the renewing of your mind? Does the body of Christ encourage and support you to do this?
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witness, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12:1-3
Nutrition – Are you feeding regularly on Spiritual Nutritious foods? Is the teaching that you digest, not just in your local congregation, but through the week aswell building each other up, encouraging each other and giving you a better understanding of God’s word, and it’s application to your life?
Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. Matthew 7:24
So, I conclude, that YES, church (lower case c) can be an idol, and it can happen in our lives far too easily. We put the church we attend on a pedestal, we put our minister and his family on a pedestal. We prioritise and idolise them. We prioritise (or not, as the case maybe) our times on Sunday, but couldn’t give two hoots about sacrificing ourselves to care and love deeply the family of Christ throughout the rest of the week.
– And we forget Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith.
We make sure that we have the right set up, the right order and execution of songs, the right decorations and floristry, the right playgroups, bible study groups, policies and procedures and we forget to commune together as the body of Christ, and rejoice together that THIS IS THE REASON we gather together, because we are loved so undeservingly, and we are saved through Jesus Christ and by the power of God, He will carry us through to Heaven to live with Him forever and ever. Amen.
That’s what idolatry does. It misplaces our desire and our affections, and it eventually destroys us, because we lose our source of life.
I don’t believe that when we stand before God He will say to us “How many times did you attend church during your time on earth…” but to those he does not know, He will sadly say, “Away from me, I never knew you.” (Matthew 7:21-23)
Are you planted in Christ? Are you engaged in the body of Christ and finding life and abundance in Him?