Monday, October 31, 2011

A Gifted People

Ephesians 4 is God’s reply to the question “Why Church?” In Ephesians 4:7-10 we discover that every person who is a believer is also a gifted minister. The focus is on grace, as God gives every believer grace in a measure suited to His good purposes both for each Christian and for His church. This means as a follower of Christ, you are uniquely graced with Christ’s gift. You are not an “accident” in life or in the body of Christ.

What is grace? Grace means that God, in an act of self-motivated pure love toward you, has generated His favor on your behalf. This is God’s own sovereign act of giving and generosity. What effect did this grace have? This grace released you from the guilt and shame of sin and empowers you to live in a righteous way. This way of life would have been impossible without His gift of grace.

Paul says this amazing grace not only saves us, but also enables us to serve God’s purpose and His Church according to His will. Jesus also gives to each of us spiritual gifts for the effective ministry of the Church. We are not given these grace gifts because we deserve it, but according the measure that Christ decided to give us (verse 7).

Romans 12:6 states “we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us.” Jesus knows what your local church needs so he has bestowed upon you gifts for the benefit of everyone in your church. Every member is a minister who is ordained by the grace of God given to him or her. Our generous Father wants His gifted people to live in freedom from sin, and to express His love to a wounded world.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Equipping the Saints or the Customer?

If you were asked the following questions, what would your answers be?
  • What is the purpose of the church?
  • What is the job of the church leader?
  • Should the church exist to meet your needs?
  • What style of music should the church have?
  • What kinds of events and programs should the church have?
  • What kind of church would make you happy?

We live in an individualistic, consumer-based culture where the customer is always right, and it’s all about you. A tragic issue arises when people view the church through consumerist eyes. People view “church” as a place you attend on Sunday that meets your needs and has good buildings; a place where the programs, music and preaching is centered on you. Basically, the church is there to help you have a happy life.

In reality, the ministries and priorities of the church aren’t intended to revolve around you or me. The church is called to revolve around God, His mission, and the people who need a Savior.

This means that as a church we believe that we exist to glorify God. Jesus never intended for His church to be a spiritual country club where membership has its privileges. This “country club” brand of Christianity is common in western culture, but this brand of Christianity would never have produced the advancement of God’s cause as seen in the book of Acts. These early believers glorified God by having an impact on their world. Their presence caused some to rejoice and caused others became violent against them.

Why isn’t the church in the USA having a greater impact? The real question is, why have we made church what we want instead what God needs us to be?

Consider a poem from a 9 year old entitled “If I Were In Charge of the World”
If I were in charge of the world, I’d cancel oatmeal, Monday mornings and allergy shots. If I were in charge of the world, there would be brighter night-lights, healthier hamsters, and basketball goals five feet high. If I were in charge of the world you wouldn’t have lonely, you wouldn’t have to clean, you wouldn’t have bedtime and you wouldn’t have ‘don’t punch your sister.’ In fact, you wouldn’t have sisters at all! If I were in charge of the world, a chocolate sundae with whipped cream and nuts would be a vegetable, a person who sometimes forgot to brush and sometimes forgot to flush would still be allowed to be in charge of the world.
If I were in charge of the world, one of the things I would change would be people’s idea about church.
  • I would want people to see the church as God intended rather than as a consumer.
  • I would want them to understand God’s design and determination for His people.
  • I would want people to understand that every Christian is a minister.

The bottom line for us is that we understand that we join God rather than God joins us.