Beloved, this morning I have stop and address something that I believe needs much attention: the church.
You may be thinking here is another sermon on what we need to, who isn’t coming and how we need to serve more, give more and be here more. Judgment, judgement, judgment.
I want to go into a different direction this morning. The church is the bride of Christ, correct? She is the one whom Paul said, “Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word” (). The church, “big C,” is made up of God’s people whom have been saved, set apart, the process of being sanctified and will, one day, be glorified when they are called home to heaven. The church “little c” is a local body of believers.
We are both made up of a multitude of people. People that are all different. People that all have different backgrounds. Some have grown up in church. You have learned the truths from an early age. You knew the Bible stories for as long as you can remember. You’ve been saved since you were a child or a teenager. You are among those who, as Abraham, were “blessed in order to be a blessing.” Whether you have done anything with what God did at an early age, has been up to you. Some of you didn’t grow up in church, you came from a rough background. You’ve brought a lot more baggage to the table than the holy roller that grew up in church, but at some point God may have drawn you to Himself and drawn you to salvation.
We all have been gifted in different ways. The Bible says that some God gave to be apostles, to be prophets, to be evangelists, to be shepherds and teachers. ()Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. ()
We all have been gifted in different ways. The Bible says that God gave some he gave the napostles, the prophets, the oevangelists, the pshepherds3 and teachers. (Eph 4:11)
The church is so unique. We are not a business. We are not a charity. We are not a social service. We are not merely an organization, or even a ministry. We are the church. This building is not the church. This building symbolizes the church. This building is a gathering place for the people who comprise the church. The church is eternal, because our souls are eternal, but this building will one day collapse or fail or burn. It is was only built in the late 50’s. Heaven and God’s people have existed since the creation of the world.
When I look out at our congregation every Sunday morning, I see the body. Every Monday morning when I sit down and look over our membership list, I see the church, I see the body. When I visit in the homes of our homebound, I see the body. When I see those who aren’t in church on Sunday, or not participating some other time. I see the body missing. I see the body missing its members. I see a body that is hurting.
Over the last decade, churches throughout this country have faced declines. There has been a shift in our culture throughout America. We were once a post-modern generation, but now we are a post-Christian generation. The things that use to matter most to our grandparents, and our parents, no longer matter to a portion of the population. We use to be a nation that followed the words on our currency, “In God We Trust.” We use to be a nation that morals stood upon the Bible. I get it, some of those things were just religious. They were paying lip service to God, but weren’t in the hearts of the people. I want the church to be the true church. I want the body to be those who proclaim themselves to be Christians, so if we widdle out some politcians and celebrities that pay lip service to God, then good, but honestly we have take God, the top priority, the one from whom everything comes and we have replaced Him with the business of life. We have taken every need to keep up with the Jones’ and put more money into our personal pleasure, into staying busy, eating out, going and doing, sports, activities, busy, busy, busy. Keep the machine going. Busy, busy, busy. We have neglected the quality time with our families and spent it doing things that are more important to us. We have neglected the time with family for the sake of the dollar. We have traded values for comfort. We have traded liberty for security. We have traded God for more sleep and slumber. We have neglected God and we have neglected His bride, the church.
We don’t have a prescribed amount of times that we are suppose to meet together. The Bible simplies says “don’t neglect the meeting of yourselves.” We can meet once a week and fulfill that requirment, but is that all it is, is a requirement. Did we check off a box? Did we do it with the right heart? Did we do it because we genuinely wanted to come and worship a holy God? Did we do it because we wanted to pause and bow a knee to our Savior, with a group of people, that are just as messed up as we are.