The world views the church in a lot of different ways. What does the bible say the church should look like?
Some would say that church is just about religion. Some people think that church is just a social club. Others think of church as nothing more than a cult.
As Christians hearing that the world looks at the church this way can upset us and even bring us to anger as we desperately try to defend our position and view of the church. The truth is, the world sees us this way because we do church the wrong way.
Many “Christians” try to make it to church each week but that is the extent of their relationship with God. The world sees this as religion and rightly so because that is all it is.
Many “Christians” go to church only to see friends and loved ones but do not get involved with the church beyond Sunday morning. The world sees this as a social club because when we treat church this way we turn it into a social club.
Many “Christians” go to church just to see a certain pastor or because they want to just be a part of something “good”. Most of these churches become very inclusive and rarely get involved with the community. The world sees these churches as cults. Now I don’t want to go as far as to say just because your church is a little off track and has gained too much of an inward focus that it is a cult but it doesn’t matter what I say if the world still sees it this way.
The issue with all of these views has nothing to do with the world, it has to do with us. We are doing church wrong and the world sees it. We look nothing like the church of the new testament there needs to be a change and that change starts with you. It starts with me. It starts will all of us.
We are the church and if we want to see the church redefined we need to step into who God created us to be and function properly as the part of the body of Christ. It takes each part doing its part because the body grows the body. Our goal shouldn’t be bigger churches, more people raising their hand to make a “decision” or trying to raise millions of dollars for the “kingdom”.
Our goal as the body is to grow up into Him who is the head into Christ. We need to focus on spiritual maturity and that focus only comes when we fix our eyes on Christ.
“Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.” Ephesians 4:15-16
This scripture from Ephesians 4 says that the whole body is joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped. The word for word translation is “by what every joint supplies”.
When we think of joints of the body we think of the major joints like the elbows or the knees but this is a different type of joint. The original word for joint here can also be translated as bond or connection.
So what is this connection that each of us has that supplies what is necessary to bring together and hold together the body?
“On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.'” Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.” John 7:37-39
In John chapter 7 Jesus says whoever is thirsty can come to him and drink but whoever believes in him will have this source of living water flowing from within. John says that Jesus was referring to the Holy Spirit. Our connection to this supply is the Holy Spirit!
Every joint matters! Every member of the body has the Holy Spirit living within them, this source of living water. Our connection to God does is not just a small supply it is an abundant supply, rivers of living water flowing!
It is through this supply that we bring and hold the entire body together. So not only is the connection itself important but the supply received through this connection.
This is why we are commanded in Ephesians to “…be filled with the Spirit,” Ephesians 5:18
When we repent and trust in Jesus we receive the Holy Spirit but filling up on the spirit is something we need to continually do. We do this through obedience.
We are also told in 1 Thessalonians, “Do not quench the Spirit.” 1 Thessalonians 5:19
We fill up on the spirit by not quenching the spirit. When we allow the spirit to flow in our lives it consumes all of who we are and what we do.
The modern church has strayed so far away from what Jesus intended it to be and most of that has to do with our disobedience. Instead of filling up on the spirit and allowing the spirit to lead us we try to do church our way.
We need to each focus on obedience to the spirit because it is the very thing that brings us together and holds us together.
Our responsibility as a part of the body of Christ does not stop with our obedience to the spirit. Once we are filled with the Spirit we need to begin to function properly.
Each Part Doing Its Part
As a part of the body of Christ we were designed by God with unique gifts and responsibility. No part of the body is more important than another and no part is unnecessary.
As we are obedient to the Holy Spirit and are filled with the Spirit He will guide us into all the truth. This includes the truth of who we are created to be.
“If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.” Galatians 5:25
It is so important as believers to keep in step with the Spirit. If we really want the Spirit to guide us into the truth of who we were created to be we cannot get out of step.
This not only means not quenching the spirit and shrinking back but we also have to be careful to not get ahead of the Spirit.
It can be really easy sometimes to feel like we can take over in our own strength to accomplish the will of God. When we do this we quench the Spirit and begin working according to our own will and strength. Through this disobedience, we will inevitably burn out and fail.
We are only benefiting the kingdom when we trust in the Spirit and follow His lead in obedience.
Part of obedience to the Spirit is being willing to use the gifts we have been given to glorify God. We see in 1 Corinthians Chapter 12 that we all receive the Holy Spirit when we trust in Jesus Christ but not only do we receive the Spirit, from the Spirit we all receive various gifts.
When we fill up on the Spirit and allow the Spirit to lead us, using our gifts to glorify God we begin to function according to how God designed us.
When each part of the body begins to do this we see some incredible things happen within the body.
The Body Grows The Body
The modern church has become so focused on extravagant events and fun activities to draw people into the church. While these events can often be fun, and in no way am I saying that we shouldn’t ever have a good time or hold events in the community, this is not how we grow the church.
The blueprint for church growth is found right here in Ephesians Chapter 4, THE BODY GROWS THE BODY. Not only does the body physically grow as we fill up on the spirit, function according to design and pour out our gifting but we also grow in maturity.
“Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation— if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.” 1 Peter 2:2
We all need to grow spiritually, we do this through the pure milk of the word. The bible constantly compares our spiritual growth to our physical growth. If we begin in infancy spiritually we have to grow! A body full of infants is completely ineffective to say the least.
If we grow through the word are we eating enough? I know my son Judah had to eat every 3 hours when we first brought him home from the hospital. When we first come to Christ we too need to have consistency when it comes to being spiritually fed.
We can never expect to grow eating for 1 hour a week! We need to be in the word daily seeking Him. A daily verse is not enough spiritual nutrition for us to grow especially when it is out of context, it’s like consuming empty calories!
If we want to change the way the world sees the church we need to redefine the way we do church. We need to get our focus back on the kingdom and each part of the body needs to do its part.
When each of us fills up on the spirit, that connection brings the body together and holds it together. The spirit leads us into the truth of who God created us to be and we begin to function properly when we remain obedient to the spirits guidance.
When we do this it makes the whole body grow, physically and spiritually as it builds itself up in love!