What an incredible blessing it was to be back among the people of Cross Culture Church this past Sunday! Being a part of a local body of followers of Jesus is such an amazing privilege. We are a varied group of people from all kinds of differing backgrounds, ages, and locations. We have different gifts and abilities, but we all come together under the banner of Jesus Christ. Listen to how the Apostle Paul describes this special relationship to the church in Rome:
For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith. For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness. Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord. (Romans 12:3-11)
In looking at that passage, at least five words jump out at me that reveal what gives the local church its power and effectiveness. First is humility. “Not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think…give preference to one another in honor.” A healthy local church understands that the church doesn’t belong to any one of us but to Christ. No one is any better or more important than the other. Some of us may have functions that may make us more visible, but not more valuable.
Second is the word diversity. “We have gifts that differ.” We are made up of different age groups. We have different skin colors. We come from different backgrounds, different educational levels, different upbringings, different economic levels. Differences tend to separate. The fact that we can all come together and function together is a testament to the power of God, and says to the world: “Everyone is welcome at the foot of the cross.”
Third is the word unity. “We who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another… Be devoted to one another in brotherly love.” As I mentioned earlier, diversity tends to bring division and separation. It should never be so in the church. Fighting and disunity in a local church is not only a disgrace to that fellowship, but it is also a distraction to the world around it because it takes the focus off of Christ and His redemptive plan. Not only is everyone welcome at the foot of the cross, all ground is level at the foot of the cross. We all come together and form this beautiful thing called the body of Christ.
Fourth is the word purity. “Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good.” Sadly, we live in a day where many local churches, and entire denominations, have sacrificed the standard of holiness God has called us to on the altar of public popularity. While all of us should be actively engaged in drawing others into the local church, we cannot do it at the expense of God’s truth in His word. That applies not only to what is taught when the church is gathered, but what is practiced when the church is scattered. As we live and work in our community during the week our lives, our marriages, our work ethic, our moral standards all have to be based on God’s expectations of purity for His followers. That may put us out of step with some at times but it keeps us in position for God’s blessing and power in our lives, and it communicates to others that the call to follow Christ is a call to a life that honors holy God.
Fifth is the word fervency. “Not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord.” We are drawn together from varied backgrounds for a single purpose: to know Him, and to make Him known. A church that is focused on knowing Christ and showing Christ to the world around it is a church that glorifies God, and is in position to be used by God to draw others to Himself. We keep our hand to the plow knowing the work God has called us to and knowing the time is short.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.