The Christian’s Calling (4)
“And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.” Matthew 16.18
The centerpiece of history
It might surprise some Christians to know that the Church of our Lord Jesus Christ is the centerpiece of history. Everything that happens in history derives from, revolves around, and is intended to bless and enlarge the Body of Christ worldwide.
How many of us who call ourselves followers of Christ even think of our church as the centerpiece of our own lives? Or our communities?
For many of us, the most important time of our lives is organized around something other than the church. Work, or our family, friends, or avocations take up more of our time and demand more of our best energy and attention than we ever invest in our local church. It’s not that we don’t love our church. It’s just that the church doesn’t occupy the same place in our lives as it does in the mind of Jesus.
Jesus declared that, at the top of His agenda in these days before He comes again, is the work of building His Church, so that, throughHis Church His Kingdom can come on earth as it is in heaven. The local church is both a sign and outpost of the Kingdom, making its existence, health, and growth of primary importance in the Lord’s agenda. Jesus commanded us to seek His Kingdom as the defining priority of our lives (Matt. 6.33). We can’t do that except according to His determined means. “I will build My church,” the Lord declared, and we can assume that, exalted in glory at the Father’s right hand, this is the most important project on His list of things to do.
So if the church is not that important to us, how can we gain more of Jesus’ perspective on the Church, so that we give ourselves to it as He intends?
Members of His Body
Every follower of Jesus Christ is a member of the Church, which is the Body of the Lord (1 Cor. 12). Each of us has something to contribute to the health and growth of the Body of Christ, beginning with the local congregation where we join with other believers to worship and serve the Lord, and extending from there to the Church of our Lord throughout the world.
But if we only look at our church as a resource for meeting our own spiritual needs, we’re not likely to exert ourselves much in building the church. Instead, we’ll always be looking to church leaders and programs to bring some benefit to us. And, since we tend to be rather easily satisfied when it comes to spiritual matters, we’ll find some niche in our church that “meets our needs” and that will be about the extent of our involvement.
But in a healthy, growing body, the individual members don’t simply leech off the rest of the body. We all have a contribution to make, be it ever so small, to the health and growth of the whole. All the disciples of Jesus will want to find their place within the Lord’s church-building agenda, and to take up whatever work that place may require for helping to make our local congregations become healthy, growing churches.
Jesus is building His Church through the individual contributions of each member of His Body (Eph. 4.11-16). We will be on the Lord’s agenda when building His church, using the gifts and resources God has provided for us, is at the top of our agenda as well.
Becoming a contributing member to the health and growth of your local church involves two primary commitments. First, you must make yourself available for the equipping you will need to become a contributing member of the Lord’s work in building His Church (Eph. 4.11, 12). The pastors and teachers God has placed in your church are there to equip you for works of ministry, works that channel the grace and truth of Jesus to other disciples and to the world.
None of us comes to faith in Jesus fully equipped to take our place in His agenda. We need to learn and grow, and to develop the gifts and abilities which the Lord provides each of us uniquely. We must learn new disciplines, discover the best ways of managing our time and resources, and find places of service appropriate to the skills and inclinations the Lord has built into us.
We need, in other words, to make sure we are always growing as a member of the Body of Christ, learning and seeking to improve our skills for contributing to the building-up of Christ’s Body in our local church (Eph. 4.17-24; 2 Pet. 3.18; 1 Cor. 12.7-11).
And then, second, we need to get to work doing those ministries of neighbor-love that channel the grace of the Lord to others at the point of their need. Each of us has a Personal Mission Field to which the Lord has appointed us, where we are to shine like light, worklike salt, and influence like leaven to bring the Good News of Jesus to the people around us. Working this Personal Mission Field is a full-time calling from the Lord. The better we work it, the more we touch others with the grace of the Lord, and the more His Body is built up in the unity and maturity He intends.
As disciples of the Lord, we follow where our Head leads, and He is working to build His Church and advance His Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. His plan is to use us as disciple-makers, who look for ways to stimulate and equip our fellow believers for love and good works (Heb. 10.24), and as His witnesses, showing and telling the Good News of Jesus to our world (Acts 1.8).
As disciples of our Lord Jesus we must take seriously His calling to be active, contributing members to the health and growth of His Body. This means our local church must become more important to us; and we need to be equipped for the unique works of ministry we can do which help to bring the Lord’s agenda to completion.
To follow Jesus as His disciple is to build His Church. The Church is the centerpiece of history; thus, it should have an important place in our lives. We all have something to contribute to Jesus’ work of building His Church, so that the churches of our Lord become the beacons of holiness, beauty, joy, and love that He intends (Ps. 48.1-3).
1. Meditate on Ephesians 4.11-16. How does Jesus build His Church today?
2. What do we mean by saying that building the Church is the Lord’s agenda? How can we know when we’re on that agenda with the Lord?
3. How can we know when our local church is growing as the Lord intends?
Next steps – Transformation: At present, how would you describe your contribution to building up your local church? What would you like your contribution to be? How can you begin making that contribution today?
T. M. Moore
Disciples of the King
Jesus is our King, and we are His servants. Our book, The Kingdom Turn, can help you establish a Kingdom framework for following Jesus. Order your free copy by clicking here. While you’re at the bookstore, pick up a free copy of two other books that can help you in seeking Jesus. What in Heaven Is Jesus Doing on Earth? brings together the teaching of Scripture concerning the reign of King Jesus (click here). And To Know Him walks you through the work of seeking Jesus as the prize of your upward calling (click here).
This week our daily Scriptorium teaching letter wraps up the book of Ruth. Next week we begin a five-part study of Colossians. Every day provides worship, meditation, reflection, and prayer. Use the pop-up to subscribe to Scriptorium.
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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.