As Paul was sitting in a prison waiting on the emperor to decide his fate he wrote many of his letters to the churches. The one that I have been reading this week is to the Philippians this morning as I was reading the passage that struck me deals with the striving in Christ. It is found in Philippians 1:27;
"27 Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel," Philippians 1:27 (ESV)
You know within the church today there is no longer a strong sense of unity. As we look around on Sunday mornings we often see individual who come in the back door take up there seat and as soon as the pastor says Amen they walk back out and leave the church without a second though till their next appointed time. I have to ask do you believe those individual are striving side by side with a heart for what God has called his church too. Often while faithful on Sunday morning they have no more connection to the work of the church than the CEO (Christmas Easter and Other special occasions) Christians that we see a few times a year.
Personally I believe when we experience church in this manner we are missing out on some of the most beneficial parts of why we are members of a local church to begin with. We read throughout scripture the importance of being like-minded and living in one accord;
10 I appeal to you, dear brothers and sisters, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, to live in harmony with each other. Let there be no divisions in the church. Rather, be of one mind, united in thought and purpose. 1 Corinthians 1:10 (NLT)
I guess the question becomes do we have enough of an understanding of who Jesus is and what he has called us to; as to live lives worthy of the calling and salvation we have received. Today does the church you serve in have a singular purpose? Do you know what that purpose is and are you living in accord with it or are you doing your own thing making your own path to righteousness. Paul gave the Christians an instruction at the end of his first letter to them and I believe it is appropriate for us today.
13 Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. 14 Let all that you do be done in love. 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 (ESV)
Each of us has a part to play in the local church body. Just like a puzzle with many pieces without all the pieces the puzzle is incomplete. However, when all the pieces are joined together as designed by the creator of the puzzle it reveals a beautiful picture with a specific purpose. If for some reason you find yourself feeling like an outsider; maybe it is because you are in the wrong puzzle. However, I want you to know something that I have found to be true you only get out of life what you are willing to put into it. The church is no different are you living worthy of your calling today? I pray that if not than you will begin to as you walk in the light of God's Word.
Rev. Brian H. Mathis CSC
Ordained Minister Church of God, Cleveland TN
Currently serving as the Associate Pastor of Discipleship at Westminster Baptist Church
Graduate of Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary MDiv in Chaplain Studies