I remember well something an Assembly of God missionary to Japan said once that I’ve never forgotten. He said, “Love your own church.” Don’t you just love short, simple and, in this case, powerful little one-liners like this?
The Greek word for the word “church” is ek-klā-sē’-ä and means “a gathering of citizens called out from their homes into some public place, an assembly.” In the Christian sense it means “an assembly of Christians gathered for worship in a religious meeting,” or “a company of Christian, or of those who, hoping for eternal salvation through Jesus Christ, observe their own religious rites, hold their own religious meetings, and manage their own affairs, according to regulations prescribed for the body for order’s sake.”
Having been a missionary in Japan for more than 36 years, I’ve come up with my own definition of the word “church.” I think it is a pretty good definition —
—is the people;
—is the building;
—is the fellowshipping, laughing and eating;
—is the worshipping;
—is the practicing, rehearsing;
—is the cleaning;
—is the studying;
—is the praying;
—is pulling weeds in the church yard;
—is the going to bed at night wondering how others are doing;
—is praying for them to keep on keeping on, to grow in knowledge and grace;
—is going to visit them;
—is building relationships with others outside the church.
I would NEVER think about leaving this group of people without definite confirmation from God and at least two or three others. The main reason people leave churches is because of not agreeing with leadership, not wanting to follow the leader. Yes, there are mistaken leaders, but we must learn to let God deal with them.
Let’s take a look at Romans 12:1-12.
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.
Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality.”
Church people belong to one another, just like our arm belongs to our physical body. Paul states here, “So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.”
Each member has a special ability (gift, talent) given to them by God.
“Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation:he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.”
We cannot choose which gift or talent we want from the list. We must discover the gift, talent God has given us. It may take some time, but it will be confirmed as we develop it. In the Proverbs it is noted that “a man’s gift makes room for him.” Proverbs 18:16 These gifts are for the edification, building up of other members of the body of believers, not for one’s self.
People in the church are to love one another, as God loved us, in spite of all our idiosyncrasies (modes of behavior). Our love is to be truthful, respectful and honorable. “Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another.”
How do you suppose people in the church should act and treat others? Paul gives clear guidelines. Read it here with me:
“Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality.
Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits.
Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath:for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.”
What is the secret to real JOY in any Christian gathering called a church? Let’s spell the word together.
J — JESUS first
O — OTHERS second
Y — YOU last
Love does not seek to benefit itself. Love always considers the other person more important. It’s an attitude of the heart — and that is where God lives.
Let’s love our own church!