The Goodness of God’s People (4)
For though I am absent in the flesh, yet I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and the steadfastness of your faith in Christ. Colossians 2.5
For this reason I left you in Crete, that you should set in order the things that are lacking, and appoint elders in every city as I commanded you…Titus 1.5
Let all things be done decently and in order. 1 Corinthians 14.40
Order is good
In the life of faith, both that of the individual believer and the local church, order is good. God is a God of order, not confusion (1 Cor. 14.33). There is a beauty to orderliness. Doing things in an orderly manner can help to promote efficiency and effectiveness. Orderliness allows all people to discover their own niches for growth and service, and helps to reinforce commitments to these.
God does not want His churches to lack in any of the order He requires. Our natural tendency, however, is not to order, but to disorder and confusion. In this fallen world, a law of entropy governs everything, not just the material cosmos. Things left to themselves tend to higher states of disorder. That includes not only your lawn and gardens, but your soul, your work, all your relationships, roles, and responsibilities, and the community of believers of which you are a part.
In all these areas and more, where order is not deliberately and diligently pursued, disorder will increase, efficiency will break down, effectiveness will falter, confusion will obtain among the members of a society or community, and goodness will elude us. Order is good; therefore, the followers of Christ should understand what God intends for them when He commands us to do all things decently and in order. The more we pursue God’s order for His Kingdom – individually and as communities – the more His goodness will come to light through us.
What does this entail?
Ordering your personal life
Let’s consider this mandate to pursue orderliness at two levels, that of the individual believer and that of the local church.
Believers are called to bring their lives into line with God’s order. God’s order is the divine economy of redemption, whereby, according to His Word and in the power of His Spirit, He is remaking and restoring all aspects of life in the world, so that the knowledge of His glory will cover the earth as the water covers the sea.
For our personal lives, God’s order begins in the soul, where we work to bring heart (affections), mind (thinking), and conscience (values and priorities) into line with His good and perfect will. We need a solid raft of spiritual disciplines, and we need to pursue those disciplines diligently. Only by submitting our soul to God’s powerful shaping forces – His Word and Spirit – can we hope to bring our soul into line with the divine order and keep it there.
Then we must consider the discipline of our bodies, how to make our eyes, mouths, ears, hands, feet, and all our bodily members act in ways that correspond to the growing divine order in our soul. What we do and how we speak express the condition of our inner lives. As our inner lives grow into God’s decent and orderly ways, we will bring our words and deeds into a similar order, following the order prescribed in His Word.
And this will mean learning to make the best use of all the time God gives us each day (Eph. 5.15-17). Bringing order into the confusion of our souls and lives must take place in time. God gives us time so that we can know His work and act wisely in obeying Him (Ps. 90.12, 16, 17). As we take up the work of God – of our calling to His Kingdom and glory (1 Thess. 2.12) – the order in our souls and lives will affect the order by which we conduct all our relationships, roles, and responsibilities. And that order will bring God’s goodness to us and through us with greater consistency and effects.
Ordering congregational life
Similarly, congregations should follow the order God intends for them. We are not free to do church any way we please. The church is not ours anyway; it belongs to the Lord Jesus Christ, and He is its Head. As Head of His Church – and all His churches – Jesus has determined an order by which He intends to build His churches as healthy Kingdom signs and outposts. The better we know that order, and the more consistent we are in submitting to it, the more God’s goodness will flow through our churches to our communities and the world.
God has shown us that, in all his churches, pastors and teachers must equip church members so that they do those works of love that lead to healthy, growing churches (Eph. 4.11, 12). Not somemembers – all. The members are the ministers of the church; the ministers and other leaders are equippers. This is God’s order for bringing His Kingdom goodness to His churches.
Similarly, God has shown us that the way this equipping is to proceed is through the work of shepherding, as Jesus defined and practiced that work (cf. Jn. 10). God’s order for equipping can be observed in the way Jesus prepared His disciples for their callings. Is this how we equip God’s people?
God also has an order for how He is to be worshiped. He has revealed a pattern for worship in His Word, and we must make sure that our services of worship provide what He requires, and not merely what we prefer.
God also has an order for how churches are to be organized and administered – officers, discipline, connections with other churches, use of church resources, mission, and the like. Are we in line with His order here?
We can only touch on this matter of order in this space. Suffice it to say that God wants His people and their churches to be conduits of His goodness to the world, and He has not left that to chance or our own best ideas. God knows what He wants, and He has determined the best ways to realize His order and goodness. We will be wise and do good works to the extent we bring our order into line with His in all things.
1. Why is order a good thing? Why is it so difficult to maintain order?
2. If we are not working constantly to order our souls, all our other forms of order will break down. Explain. What does this require?
3. What does it mean to make the most of the time God gives us each day?
Next steps – Transformation: What will you do to begin bringing more of God’s order to your soul and life?
T. M. Moore
The Spirit of God executes the will of King Jesus, as His Agent on earth, for the progress of His Kingdom. Learn more about the kingship of Jesus and our place in it by ordering a copy of the book, The Kingship of Jesus, from our online store (click here).
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.