A HEALTHY CHURCH IS THIS CONTINUED
Napoleon Bonaparte who was a man of humble beginnings, who went on to be a General, stated the following after making rounds about his different post and finding a soldier asleep at his post, “Soldier what is your name, the soldier replied, “My name is Napoleon, Bonaparte replied what did you say your name was, he responded the second time, Napoleon. Then Bonaparte stated, “Soldier my name is Napoleon, and Bonaparte said “I suggest that you either change your name or start living up to it.”
“Worthy” (Axios) means to balance the scales-what is on one side should be equal to the other. Our calling and our walk on this earth is a weighty calling because it’s attached to the only name under Heaven to which man must be saved. The common calling that we have in Christ unites us together through His death, resurrection and ascension, so we must recognize this divine nature that God called us too. We as a body share a common experience of His amazing grace. As Jesus said to His disciples “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.” John 15:16
Here Paul gives us some very import essentials for faithful Christian living, important essentials to a healthy church. Essentials that are weighty and worthy in the Lord’s calling on your life.
This involves God-awareness and person of Jesus Christ and His human perfection. In order to understand the great need of humility we first need to recognize our underlying pride that so easily gets in the way. Humility is a freedom from pride and arrogance; humbleness of mind; a modest estimate of one's own worth. It is a state of mind well pleasing to God; Jesus Christ brings humility into your life? As one theologian said “If I try to make myself as small as I can, I'll never become humble. Humility comes when I stand as tall as I can, and look at all of my strengths, and the reality about me, but I put myself alongside Jesus Christ. And it's there, when I humble myself before Him, and I stop being fooled about myself, and I stop being impressed with myself, that I begin to learn humility.” Andrew Murray the great puritan preacher said “Humility is perfect quietness of heart…” Humility is one of the highest graces and one of the hardest to attain.
Why? The opposite of humility is “self-exaltation”. Our culture screams from the tops of buildings that we should “Exalt yourself”, “Pamper yourself”, and “Think about yourself first, because you’ve earned it.” Humility on the other hand is being filled with God not self. The problem we face is that we think of ourselves to much and not of others. Tim Keller said “The essence of gospel humility is not thinking of myself or thinking less of myself, it is thinking of myself less.” Humility requires us to examine ourselves against the beauties and perfections of Christ and its humbling thing to realize the world doesn’t revolve around me and my glory. What’s more amazing is that despite my lack of humility at times and the great sin of pride that is before me That through all of that…. God still saved my wretched soul….”That’s humbling!” See, it’s looking at the example of our Lord Jesus Christ and learning from Him. As Jesus said “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matt 11:29
Now, this essential doesn’t mean we are to be timid; it involves being “mild –spirited” or “self-controlled.” This is better translated “meekness”........It’s an inward grace of the soul. It’s the temper of the Spirit in which we accept His dealing with us as good....without the arguing or resistance. Basically it’s a humble and gentle attitude that is patiently submissive in every situation of life....with the freedom or desire for revenge or retribution. James Boice said “It’s a person who is so much in control of himself that he is always angry at the right time and never angry at the wrong time.” A prime example of this is found in Moses “Now the man Moses was very humble, more than all men who were on the face of the earth.” Num12:3. Moses had a humble, but gentle disposition when it came to conflict, compared to the rest of the Israelites. Despite his own notwithstanding imperfections
This same principle applies to you and me!! We are to have that same gentle spirit as Moses did....even in times of conflict! This essential attribute is in each and every called child of God through the gospel. We read in Gal 5:23-26 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.
This has to do with tolerance and longsuffering in your life today and tomorrow.
Enduring situations and putting up with difficult people is not easy. It’s the quality of putting up with others, even when one is severely frustrated. It’s that calm willingness to accept situations that may irritate you or cause you pain. The greatest example of patience is found in God with His creation!
“God is slow to anger” Ps 86:15
We always need to remind ourselves of this truth; that God is more patient with us then we deserve. Don’t miss this! He expects the same from me and you. The patient Christian accepts God’s plan for everything. Let me ask you! How are you doing with this essential truth for the church? Because love is patient and long-tempered. See, to have patience love we must endure annoyances and challenges over a period of time. Paul reminded the greatest church that ever lived this truth! (sarcasm added) In 1 Cor 13:4-7 we read this “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Is this easy? No, but with the Spirits power, we can and will do this. Paul is calling us to emulate our Lord’s patience by what Paul said to the church! Col 3:12-13 says “Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.”
This is very important because we know according to the scriptures “love covers a multitude of sins.” 1 Pet 4:8. This is picture of throwing a blanket over the sins of others, not to justify or excuse them away, but to keep the sins from becoming a distraction to restoration, sanctification and growing together in grace.. Forbearing love could only be “Agape” love because only agape love gives continuously and unconditionally. Agape love is unqualified and unselfish as we have learned by the previous healthy attitudes for a healthy church. It’s a forbearing love that willingly gives whether they receive anything in return. It’s an invisible goodness and a love that even extends to our enemies and the ability to pray for our persecutors. As Jesus said “You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,” Matt 5:43-44. Longsuffering is an expression of love and this should be marked in the church of Jesus Christ.
This is the idea of being diligent to preserve the unity in the church for the glory of God through the Sprit in the bond of peace. The ultimate outcome of the above essentials leads to this word “eagerness”
“An eagerness” or “to make haste” is where we get the meaning for zeal and diligence.
One commentator describes it as “a holy zeal that demands full dedication.” Paul used the same language to strengthen Timothy to leads God’s people. “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.” 2 Tim 2:15. This requires a passion and a zeal for God’s truth and God’s people. Preservation of unity should be the diligent and constant concern of every believer for the true family of God. The church is the only institution entrusted by God; with a message of: Repentance, and Believe in Jesus! Christ! The called out ones. The danger sometimes in the church is this… Kent Hughes said “pride and self-promoting arrogance sow disunity, but humble, gentle man or woman is like a caressing breeze.” To be a God centered; requires that we walk worthy of this calling in Christ. A God displaying church that glories in God’s character and the Truth of the Gospel. We as a church in today’s society need to do the same! We need to stand strong as a body, as the called out ones! To what seems contrary to the world’s philosophy of how to do church. Coca Cola is recognizable everywhere it is sold, regardless of what country it is sold in. People may not be able to tell at distance that we are a believer; however, as they get to know us there should be something distinct about us that set us apart. Emulating as ambassadors for Christ to a broken and lost world. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Cor 5:17-21
This letter that Paul wrote to the Corinthians was directed to all Christians! No matter their occupation - pastors, school teachers, personal trainers, garbage collectors, stock brokers, moms, police officers. Everyone. Everywhere. All the time. The work of an ambassador is incarnational. It’s a person regarded as embodying or exhibiting some quality, idea, or the like of another. Our actions, character, and words embody the king who isn't present. In the same way, the Apostle Paul teaches that God has called us all to function as His incarnational ambassadors. Everything we say and do have significance because of the King we represent here in our earthly bodies.
A healthy Church is this…….
A people devoted to Christ as Lord of our Lives.
A people who delight in His word as necessary food for daily life.
A people who meditate and memorize His precious Word as a joy and not a hindrance.
A people who want nothing more than to serve God with their whole heart.
A people who are available to serve one another, because we want to serve the Kingdom of God.
A people who have a desire to pray not just for themselves but for one another.
A people who want to share the good news of the Gospel with those who have not heard this good news.
A people who want nothing more than to embrace the Kingdom of God with a heart of humility, gentleness, patience, forbearing, with eagerness to glorify God as a body saved by sovereign grace.
It’s a weighty calling, it’s a worthy calling and we should never be sleeping on the job and not taking our position in Christ seriously as a church family. Because it might lead a devoted Christian to say “I suggest that you either change your name or start living up to it.”