Monday, July 18, 2011

An Exemplary Church

When Paul wrote to the Corinthian church about the offering that was being gathered by the churches for the struggling saints in Judea, he used the Macedonian churches as an example - "Moreover, brethren, we make known to you the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia: that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded in the riches of their liberality. For I bear witness that according to their ability, yes, and beyond their ability, they were freely willing, imploring us with much urgency that we would receive the gift and the fellowship of the ministering to the saints. And not only as we had hoped, but they first gave themselves to the Lord, and then to us by the will of God" (2 Cor. 8:1-5).

This is one of my favorite texts in the New Testament. The reason is simple: It is obvious that Christianity was real and was being acted out by some of the churches in an extraordinary way. Paul felt the need to implore some churches to be like other churches, when other churches excelled in areas where the church he was addressing was obviously weak. I have thought about this many times and used it in preaching. I will continue to do so. I like to make comparisons between the local church of which I am a member and minister, and other churches in the brotherhood.

For example, this week I have been preaching a gospel meeting at the Bethlehem church of Christ in Henry County, TN. Although their regular attendance is around 30 on Sunday morning, we had 64 yesterday morning for the first day of the gospel meeting. Sunday night we had about 80. In my opinion, this is extraordinary. This little congregation, located way out in the country, has taken their meeting seriously. How many of our churches merely get a speaker and put an ad in the paper and that is it? How many of our churches attend the gospel meeting better than they do regular worship services? How many of our churches double the attendance of Sunday morning for every night of the meeting? This does not happen by accident. The Bethelehem congregation has served as an example to me this week, and to other churches, as to how the preaching of the glorious gospel of Christ should be a priority to the children of God.

One question for you, today: If your local congregation were to serve as an example to other churches, for what would it be known? Would Paul use other churches to stir your congregation up, or could he use you as an example to the brethren to stir them up? The example you choose to set as a church for the saints and for the world is entirely up to you.

"Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen." ~ Eph. 3:20-21

No comments:

Post a Comment