Will The Church Please Stand Up!

As I go through Facebook statuses this morning, there is a message developing. It began with this thought: the church is suppose to change you, you are not suppose to change the church. Then, by the Spirit’s prompting, I saw just how wrong this statement is.

First, let’s rightly establish what a church is. Here in America, we’ve come to believe that the church is the meeting house that devout folks go each week. Well, if the church is a building, then that building certainly has no power to change a human life.
There are so many people who begin attending a place of worship and after several months have a list of what they want to change about the way it is operated. They want to change how services are conducted, what songs are led, what the pastor preaches on, etc. How is it possible for Acts 2:1-4 to be accomplished and for Acts 2:41 to occur if we who are in the building don’t come together in prayer with one goal of heart? There maybe some things that should change in our places of worship — but maybe the biggest change should be in US.

So, what is the church if it isn’t a building? According to my concordance the Church is “the called out ones,”, and the term is applied to the body (group) of Believers (1 Cor. 12:27,28), the Body of Christ (Eph. 1:22,23) — and it tells me that we are ONE body (1 Cor. 12:18-24).
So, if people who have been reconciled to God through faith in Jesus are really the ones who ARE the church, and if Christ is the Head of the church, His body, then it is only Christ who can transform us from who we once were into a people after God’s own heart.

When people who are not part of the body come into our services they see and hear things that are meant to edify the body. So, they don’t understand what they see and hear and they want to change things to make it more ‘user friendly’. Are we only edifying ourselves in our services or are we also speaking in a language that those outside the body can comprehend?
The way I read Acts 2 is the Body of Believers were gathered together in a house and they were all praying and believing for a common goal. Scriptures says that where 2 or 3 of you are gathered in My (Jesus) Name, there I am in the midst of you. So, while they were praying, the Spirit of God came and lighted on each one of them, and those in the house could see what was happening. This part was for their own edification. But, then something else happened. They began speaking in the languages of the people who lived in Jerusalem and the surrounding area. These folks were not well-schooled students, and they must have been fairly loud, because they began to draw a crowd. When the crowd heard the Good News message being spoken in their own languages, they were amazed. They didn’t know it, yet, but God had orchestrated this part for their salvation. And many that heard the Words of Life received the message with gladness and were added to the body of Christ that day.
I don’t believe those believers were shut up in a house, behind closed doors and drawn curtains. Nor do I believe the people outside actually walked into the house where the Believers were. I believe what began in that house, spilled out into street where thousands, who were gathered in Jerusalem for the Feast, heard the wondrous works of God. The kicker is that when Peter stood up among them and began to preach, it wasn’t a “feel good” message. No! In fact, the writer of Acts records that when the people who gathered heard Peter’s message they were cut to the quick and asked, “what must we do?” And Peter told them to “repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the Name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Acts 2:37, 38
Romans 10:14-17 says, “How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: ‘how beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things!’ But they have not all obeyed the Gospel. For Isaiah says, ‘LORD, who has believed our report?’ So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”

“There is a way which seems right to a person but in the end its ways are death.” Proverbs 14:12 “In other words, do not let yourselves be conformed to the standards of this world. Instead, keep letting yourselves be transformed by the renewing of your minds; so that you will know what God wants and will agree that what He wants is good, satisfying and able to succeed.” Romans 12:2

Do you ( I ) want change in our houses of worship? If so, then we must allow Christ, who is the Head of the body, change us. If we continue to try to change things to suit us or to draw others, we are going to continue to look and act more and more like the world we are sojourners in. However, if we allow Christ to transform us from the inside out, then as the Spirit of directs we can go outside the building with wondrous words of life for a lost and dying world. But let me leave you with this today: 1 Cor. 12: 31 – 13:1, “but earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way. Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels but have not love, I have become as sounding brass or a clanging cymbal.”

Which Group Do You Fall Into?

Within every company there are 4 groups of people.

1. You have people who have a job but they don’t really want it, do as little as possible, complain about everyone and everything, take more allowances than they have coming, pass off they’re work onto others and leave what they do half finished. They are not team players and they are the rule breakers. They push beyond limits to prove they can get away with it. They are the last in the door in the morning and first out when it’s time to go home. They never give anything extra, but complain about how little they pay they get, how the boss never shows them any respect and how the co-workers plot to make them look bad. These guys seem to get a lot of attention, but really, the company has to do a lot of damage control because they are good at making the company look so bad. Too many people outside the company know about these guys and it causes them not to want to do business with the company, even though this group only makes up a tiny portion of the company and certainly does not reflect the practices of it. Those outside the company make fun of this group and tend to see the company as a joke because of them. These people never keep their job because they have really never gotten away with anything like they thought, and they always act so surprised when they are fired.

2. You have people who need the job so they do it, but they don’t like it. They would gather be doing something else, but they gotta put food on the table. They rarely make waves or rock the boat, but there is always a hint of a chip on their shoulder, so their attitude makes them difficult to work with. They do what is required but their heart isn’t in it, and it reflects in the quality of their output. They follow the rules outwardly, but if they can get away with fudging a little, they see no harm, no foul. These people never advance and grow in their position, and they rarely recommend the company to others because in their heart theres strife and envy. People outside the company hear about this group of people too. Even if they believe in the company’s product, they refuse to do business with it because they confuse the bad attitude of this group as the attitude of the company itself. They continually judge the company based upon this group’s attitude and refuse to believe any good reports they hear. If this group isn’t fired because of their attitude, they usually quit because anything done only as a duty they increasingly feel unappreciated in and give up on.

3. This group is the most under-acknowledged. They are educated, likable, and usually have a good attitude. (Everyone has a bad day now and then). They know they don’t have all the answers and they are willing to listen to instruction and continue their education so they can grow. They aren’t perfect, they make mistakes, but they are quick to correct them and make amends. It is more than just a job to them; they aren’t working out of a sense of duty. They believe in what the company does and their heart is in it, so they produce quality work. They talk to folks about the company, but most folks just bring up the bad behavior of the 1st two groups and make fun of this group for staying. Because these guys follow the rules, do a great job and aren’t controversial, most folks outside the company have never heard of them. But company management knows them by name and they are well rewarded.

4. This is a very small group indeed, and it can be divided into 2 smaller cells. Both have moved up the ladder and are considered the elite of the company. Most of them have advanced to the point of having their own franchises. The one cell is very tiny and has all the characteristics of Group #3. They are not perfect, but their integrity and that of who they work for is extremely important to them. They do all they can to keep themselves from controversy and squabbles while upholding the values and standards of the company in the face of harsh ridicule. Remember that their franchise also has workers who fit into one of the first 3 groups. They are highly praised within the company, but those outside are always looking for any reason to point an accusing finger with the mindset that it’s just a matter of time before they show their true colors.
The second cell is probably more hurtful to the company than any other group. Like the first cell, they advance up and usually have their own franchise because for many years they were in #3 Group. They are very charismatic and the spotlight seems to shine on them. Then, something happens. Either they become careless or they believe they can do what they want and hide behind the company’s reputation — I’m not sure. But the end result is always the same. They fall, and how great is their fall! And they take the company’s reputation with them. They become a laughing stock and so does the company, along with everyone who works for it.

Now, apply this to the Christian Faith….

Titus 2 Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)
1 But you, explain what kind of behavior goes along with sound teaching. 2 Tell the older men to be serious, sensible, self-controlled and sound in their trust, love and perseverance.

3 Likewise, tell the older women to behave the way people leading a holy life should. They shouldn’t be slanderers or slaves to excessive drinking. They should teach what is good, 4 thus training the younger women to love their husbands and children, 5 to be self-controlled and pure, to take good care of their homes and submit to their husbands. In this way, God’s message will not be brought into disgrace.
6 Similarly, urge the young men to be self-controlled, 7 and in everything set them an example yourself by doing what is good. When you are teaching, have integrity and be serious; 8 let everything you say be so wholesome that an opponent will be put to shame because he will have nothing bad to say about us.
9 Tell slaves to submit to their masters in everything, to give satisfaction without talking back 10 or pilfering. On the contrary, they should demonstrate complete faithfulness always, so that in every way they will make the teaching about God our Deliverer more attractive.
11 For God’s grace, which brings deliverance, has appeared to all people. 12 It teaches us to renounce godlessness and worldly pleasures, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives now, in this age; 13 while continuing to expect the blessed fulfillment of our certain hope, which is the appearing of the Sh’khinah of our great God and the appearing of our Deliverer, Yeshua the Messiah. 14 He gave himself up on our behalf in order to free us from all violation of Torah and purify for himself a people who would be his own, eager to do good.
15 These are the things you should say. Encourage and rebuke with full authority; don’t let anyone look down on you.