Why Church Matters 1.15.17 Sermon

“Why Church Matters”

     Who are what has the most influence in your life?  It’s an important question to ask because who or what you listen to will ultimately determine what you do.  Some argue that church is not that big of a deal, but only people who are connected with Jesus and His church will experience the abundant life He promised us.

     So we come to church every day, but has anyone ever stopped to think…..why exactly do you come? Do you come to church because you think it’s a positive thing to do? Do you view church as a social gathering? Do you think, well, I’m a Christian, so it’s the right thing to do….right? Well, all these things are good, but I want to talk about the fact that we as the church are in fact an organism.  The church is not four walls, the church is living and breathing.  It is the Body of Christ. And every single piece of the Body is needed for the body to function properly.

1 Corinthians 12:12-19 (ESV) 12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit. 

     The apostle Paul is writing to the church here and explaining the importance of community, of family and fellowship.  He says that the church is living and breathing.  The Holy Spirit was poured out on all, whether they were Jews or Greeks, slaves or free men, and all were made to drink of one Spirit.

     Paul is saying that the unity of the church cannot be overstated or overemphasized.   The gathering of the saints is where real growth happens. He uses the human body to describe the church and Christ is the head who guides and directs.  Then he says that race and social status are all drowned in the presence of the One Holy Spirit, whose presence we all drink of.

-How many times are the words “us” and “we” used in this passage? With that in mind, do you think God intended Christianity to be a solo or team sport?  IN his book on Christian community, Life Together, Dietrich Bonhoeffer notes that the “unspeakable gift” of fellowshipping with other believers is often taken for granted and isn’t recognized as the blessing it is.  -Does god want his people meeting together on a consistent basis? Of course he does! It is he who unites us.

We are all united in our pursuit of Jesus

    So many people treat the local church with contempt nowadays.  It’s like pulling teeth just to get other believers to support each other and rallying behind each other.   Here are some more scriptures to get you thinking:  Matthew 16:18 says that Jesus built the church…would the son of God actually spend time building something that was worthless?

Acts 20:28 says Jesus shed His blood for the church.  Would the Son of God have been willing to endure suffering He went through for something meaningless?  Ephesians 1:22 and Colossians 1:18 says Jesus is the head of the church.  Would Jesus be the head of something insignificant?  No, he would not!!!  We need to stay connected to Jesus because he is the brains of our operation.  He sends signals out to all of us, so that we can know which direction to move.  We need Christ…..but he also needs us.  He doesn’t need us in the sense that Jesus couldn’t function without us. But since the church is an organism, Christ has chosen to be connected to us, to remain in communion and fellowship with us, for all time.  One large part of being in the body is that conflict will occur, but healing will also take place as well.

     The Body could not be a place of healing without all its members.  So….you have Christians who say they don’t need church to connect with God.  They stay away from church because of the so-called “hypocrites.” But here it is…part of the reason why the church might SEEM like it is crippled is because everybody who is supposed to be in place is not in place! First of all, it’s always a struggle to get men to come to church….it’s because men have a harder time being humble as a rule.  BUT..there are plenty of couples where the husband is faithful and the wife refuses to submit to Christ.  But listen, in a body, the skin protects the blood vessels, tissue and muscles, right? That wife who wants to stay away might be that skin graft that the Body of Christ so desperately needs! That husband who complains about the church being full of hypocrites might be that rib that protects those vital organs…I mean, if the church is so bad, then that person who is staying away could be the very person the church, the Body of Christ needs.  Check this out….anybody who’s ever been sick knows that if they don’t get the proper nutrition and rest, they will remain sick longer.  It’s easier to get sick when your body isn’t healthy, right? Let’s look at body building and exercise.  Now, if your midsection muscles aren’t strong, then your lower back has to compensate for the extra weight, right? Also, if your upper body and stomach aren’t healthy, then you damage and wear out your knees, right? It’s the same way with us.  We all need each other.

Let’s stop focusing on who we think is more gifted, or has more experience, or is more educated, or who is a “stronger” Christian.  The truth is that we all have a vital role to play and we can all contribute greatly to the Lord’s Work. Let’s look at verse 14:

1 Corinthians 12:14-16 (ESV)

14 For the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body.

OBSERVATION

The body does not consist of one member but many, the apostle says.  The foot cannot say to the hand that they do not belong.  The ear should not say because I am not an eye I do not belong to the body.  However, these things do not mean those parts are not attached to the Body.

Ah so as I was working on this, I thought about the fact that there are so many denominations.  But you know what, there is a difference between division and diversity! It is possible to be unified and diversified at the same time.  Ask me how I know? Well, ask the Holy Trinity!!

     So I think Paul was saying that just like a hand, foot and ear all have different functions, perhaps different denominations have different functions, too.  Or even different ethnic fellowships have different functions.  For example, let’s take the Japanese Assemblies of God (Show Joyful Chapel photo).  The Christians in Japan have different issues that they deal with because they are Japanese, because they are Asian, because they live in the Pacific, etc.  [Story of pastor Shibuya not understanding people from Aomori because of a different accent or dialect than Tokyo].  So even within the Assemblies of God, the issue of language is real.  The Japanese AG has formed its own subculture within the AG.   Not a horrible thing, just a natural thing.

      Yes, everybody in the Body is damaged goods.  So when damaged goods collide with each other, some nasty stuff is gonna spill out of those interactions sometimes.  But! The church is a hospital.  So what happens in a hospital full of sick people? They are going to cough on each other.  They don’t do it intentionally.   But even if we do it intentionally, we are all in here to see the physician, the Great Physician, Christ Jesus.  That’s why you do it.  Now, we have our weekly check up with our physician on Sundays.  But here’s what we have to understand….if we are the Body of Christ, we are never disconnected.  It’s impossible! Remember Christ is our brains! So really…we need our physician every day.  If sin is a sickness, and we sin every day, then we need the medicine of the Word of God, and the protection that the skin and the ribs, meaning other people in the Body of Christ, provide.  We need that daily blood transfusion….the injection of the Blood of Christ into our lives and situations daily.  Conflicts will arise, but if we remember that it is impossible to be disconnected, this will remind us that we need to forgive each other, and let love cover a multitude of faults.

There’s no such thing as a perfect church– I guarantee you’ll see a unicorn before you see a perfect church!! Sure the church can be a pain, it’s filled with a bunch of sinners!  But to abandon it because of its faults is to miss out on something so big and Christ-ordained.  Listen, this is going to be challenging…but

I guarantee you’ll see a unicorn before you see a perfect church!! Sure the church can be a pain, it’s filled with a bunch of sinners!  But to abandon it because of its faults is to miss out on something so big and Christ-ordained.  Listen, this is going to be challenging…but I guarantee you’ll see a unicorn before you see a perfect church!! Sure the church can be a pain, it’s filled with a bunch of sinners!  But to abandon it because of its faults is to miss out on something so big and Christ-ordained.  Listen, this is going to be challenging…but church is not designed to cater to your convenience.  Church is not designed to cater to MY convenience.  I can’t manipulate you guys into doing what I want.  Listen, Christ is desperately in love with his Bride, the church.  Now, remember that when the Bible says that the church is the Bride of Christ, it’s obviously a metaphor.  No man can obviously be a bride.  But the relationship between a husband and a wife is the most intimate emotional, physical, mental and spiritual relationship that human beings can participate in on this earth, so Paul uses this metaphor to illustrate how close God wants his people, His church, to be to Him.  This is why in Ephesians 5:22-32 Paul says that wives should love their husbands as though they were Christ, and husbands should love their wives like Christ loved the church, crucifying themselves to their own wants and needs for the sake of their wives, just like Christ was crucified for us.  This is the greatest marriage counseling on the planet right here, Ephesians 5!! But we will disagree.  We will step on each other’s toes.  We will offend each other.  But we must anticipate this in advance, and prepare our hearts.  My wife is a big runner. So when she runs, she has this giant belt.  It has maybe 6 or 7 water bottles on it.  Now it might look a little silly, but she’s prepared.  My wife has her reserves of water stored on her hip.  It’s the same way with us.  Let’s have those bottles of extra mercy, extra compassion, extra forgiveness.  We are going to get tired of running the race.  We’ll need to replenish and recharge, we’ll have to return to fasting, to prayer, to the scriptures.  We’ll need it not only for ourselves, but for the Lord.  No matter how much you might dislike the way one of your body parts looks, you won’t cut it off. Christ is the same way.  His people who are blood covered, even if they don’t look or act like they are redeemed, he’s not cutting off his finger or his toe! So we can’t cut folks off or write them off so quickly, either.  1 John 2:9

Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness.

1 John 2:11

But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.

1 John 3:15

Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.

1 John 4:20

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.

Some of us are holding some serious grudges against other Christians.  And for some of us, it’s not that serious.  BUT….being disengaged isn’t an option either.  If by being disengaged in the lives of other believers we should that we aren’t concerned about each other’s spiritual growth, we may as well hate each other.  But let’s not even give off that impression.  Let’s build the kingdom together! That’s one of the reasons I’m grateful for the Assemblies of God.  Of course they are far from perfect.  And of course I may not 100% agree with every single detail of their doctrines and beliefs, and how they operate.  But overall, they are an organized, Spirit-filled organization.  And many people from the outside looking in will say they are not “denominational.”  You don’t have to be a part of a denomination, but if you attend a church where the members never fellowship with other churches, that’s not healthy.  If the pastor doesn’t talk about his mentors and leaders that he is accountable to and submits to, something is wrong.  Any body part that is cut off will rot and die. .Paul continues in 1 Corinthians 12..

 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? 18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19 If all were a single member, where would the body be?

The hand is a buffer for the fingers.  The arm is a buffer for the hand.  What I mean is that my fingers can’t go one way if my hand and arm are going another way.  My fingers have to submit to the will of the arm, and the arm follows the signals from the brain! My arm can only rotate so much because my rotator cup limits the movements of my arm, for my own safety.  There is safety in numbers.  There is safety in churches and pastors who fellowship together.  We can pool our resources, we can pray for each other

The church is one body with many parts

**So think about it, who or what has the most influence in your life?  Answering this is dangerous because you might find out that you need to make some adjustments.  .  And it is humbling being a part of a denomination, or a group of independent churches that worship together.  Remember, the label “independent” doesn’t mean one group of believers has the right to ignore other gatherings of believers.  And for person like myself who wants to pursue ministry for the rest of my life, it’s good for me because if I start to preach or teach anything contrary to scripture, I have people around me who can say, Cam, is that found in scripture? You might need go back and check the Word again.  But I’ve postured & positioned myself to be teachable.   Now did you guys know that you can go on the internet, pay a small fee, and become a licensed minister online via the mail? It’s ridiculous! However, the AG ordination process from scratch takes four years.  But because I got my MDiv the AG waived 2 years of the process! For my ordination I have to have a good reputation in the AG.  I have to fly back to the states, and physically see the leaders of the AG, and meet a board.  The Assemblies of God has its own credit union.  They have something called AG Financial Solutions, where you can invest specifically in businesses, business ventures and non-profit organizations that spread the gospel.  Or even basic stuff like when I retire or even when I pass away, I might want a specific amount of my income or insurance going to fund missions.  They offer retirement benefits to preachers, they send people on missions trips, they have a presence on college campuses, they start new churches all over the world.  They have retirement homes for missionaries in Springfield, Missouri, where their capital is.  People might say, “well, shouldn’t you just trust God for those things?” But God already has groups of believers who look out for each other.  If God has already blessed a certain fellowship or organization in the Body of Christ, and they want to take care of you, why not link up with them?   Yes I’m a minister, and yes, leading a church is spiritual.  But can I be real? I’m also an employee! And my denomination is the closest thing to a Union that I’ll have.  If I bypass all of these provisions God has provided, and just say, “well, I’m trusting God,” why would I pray for rescue from drowning, and then ignore the helicopters and boats God sends?

     My point is in being accountable to another group of believers, I gain godly counsel, and advice on all kinds of things.  We have to remember that we are one body!  Now this is just one organization, and it’s the one I’m in and it’s the one I know, so that’s why I’m talking about the AG.  Every 2 years they have General Council, in which they discuss church discipline, church government, etc.

   There are so many wonderful advantages to being a part of the Body of Christ.  We are all in this together.  Acts 2:42-44 (ESV) 42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common.

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