From the Preacher’s Pen…
Is it over? Or is it just beginning?
Do you remember the saying: “Today is the first day of the rest of your life!”? Yesterday will never be ours again and tomorrow will always be beyond our grasp, but today we can control who we are and how we act. The Hebrew writer says it like this, Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God. But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called ‘Today,’ so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. (Hebrews 3:12-13)
As we grow up, as we mature there are opportunities, duties, and responsibilities that are ours. They cannot be shirked; they cannot be put off or left to someone else. They must be done, and they must begin today. Consider some of our…
Responsibilities to the Church
The church is God’s invention. It originated in the mind of God and was foretold by His prophets (Isaiah 2:2-3) and by Jesus Himself (Matthew 16:18). It began, as recorded in Acts chapter two, with the saved ~ all of them ~ being added to it by the Lord (Acts 2:47). The church is Christ’s body (Ephesians 1:22-23) and He is its head (Colossians 1:18). As the head, Jesus has all authority over the church and thus we are required to be submissive to His revealed will in the New Testament. No one can truly love Jesus then only “invite Him into their heart” without obeying the things the Lord commands.
Since the church is the Lord’s, we must understand our responsibilities to our Savior in order to please Him. Responsibility or duty is not always a pleasant task (although it can often be so) but it is something we feel committed toward. Consider three of our responsibilities toward the Lord and His church:
We must place the Lord and His church first in our lives. (Matthew 6:33)
First does not mean placing him second, third, or twenty-third. First means first! In every decision and activity of life, we must consider spiritual things first. A soldier in an earthly army may be court-martialed for “action unbecoming.”
Do you actively think how your plans and actions will reflect upon Christ and His church? Could a Christian possibly imagine that their personal happiness is more important than what the Lord requires? Would religious divisions, divorce, and similar tragedies occur so frequently if we placed Jesus first in our lives? This is not a finger pointing exercise, but a challenge for you and me. Who and what occupies first place in your life?
We must work for the Lord and His church. (John 9:4)
Do you know what the word is for a soldier found to be working for a government other than his own? Traitor! Employers sometimes complain of employees that have “quit and stayed.” That is, they don’t do their share of the work and yet continue to expect their pay. Our Lord wants us to be engaged in good works (Ephesians 2:10) that glorify the Father (Matthew 5:16).
This work brings our faith alive (James 2:26) and makes it the light that cannot be hidden. Jesus charges us (the church) with the mission of sharing the Good News with the lost (Mark 16:15-16). If ten to twenty percent of a congregation does one hundred percent of the work, how much could be done by one hundred percent of us working? Rather than making excuses and/or blaming others for our inactivity, examine yourself. Wouldn’t it be great if we could say with the Lord, I have glorified You on the earth: I have finished the work You gave me to do (John 17:4)?
We must love and seek the fellowship of the Lord and His church. (1 John 1:7)
Can you imagine a soldier that preferred the company of traitors or of the enemy? Can you imagine a Christian that would intentionally miss a worship and study assembly of the church? Supposed that the church members were making mistakes in their lives and in many ways seemed unlovable. Would not your responsibility be to patiently meet with, pray for, and otherwise encourage them to be more like Christ? We could not understand a mother who claimed to only love her baby when it was clean, dry and fed. John F. Kennedy challenged Americans to not ask what their country could do for them, but rather what they could do for their country. Does Jesus expect any less of us?
God sent His son to die for you, redeem you from hell and set you on the path to eternal life. Does He not have the right to expect you to take up your responsibilities? John writes, How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! (1 John 3:1) It is a privilege and an honor to be in fellowship with God and His people. With honor comes responsibilities that we need to shoulder and bear with pride. Let’s determine to do that together beginning right now!
— Lester P. Bagley