"A Washington Pastor whose church was attended now and again by the President of the United States received a phone call asking, `Can you tell me if the President is expected to attend church next Sunday?’ That,' the pastor patiently replied, `I cannot promise, but we do expect God to be present, and we fancy that will be sufficient incentive for a reasonably large attendance.'"
As we have been meditating on being thankful…that would easily move our thoughts to Christmas this time of year. I would like to begin with a not so usual thought about Christmas. There are endless reasons to be thankful for Christmas, but one not so obvious to most is the Church. In fact, many dislike the “Body” they are in…the question that begs to be asked is…whose fault is that? Christ’s incarnation began the move by God from the nation Israel, God's people…which they still are and will rise again as the champions of the gospel…to what our Lord called His Church.
Too many have a bad taste in their mouth because they have confused the perverted, man centered, religiosity of an institution that we call church. It is inward focused, self absorbed, centered around material things and worships the “trinity” of “Me, Myself and I!”
That is not what God created! Let’s consider why we should be thankful for the Body of Christ…the Church!
Our word “Church” comes from the Greek: ἐκκλησία ekklēsía; which basically means “called out.”
Here is how it is used: 1) an assembly of the people convened at the public place of the council for the purpose of deliberating 2) the assembly of the Israelites 3) any gathering or throng of men assembled by chance, tumultuously 4) in a Christian sense; an assembly of Christians gathered for worship in a religious meeting; a company of Christian, or of those who, hoping for eternal salvation through Jesus Christ, observe their own religious rites, hold their own religious meetings, and manage their own affairs, according to regulations prescribed for the body for order's sake; those who anywhere, in a city, village, constitute such a company and are united into one body; the whole body of Christians scattered throughout the earth; including the assembly of faithful Christians already dead and received into heaven.
One reason to thank God for the Church is:
Matthew 16:18 I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.
Where else in this world can you become involved in something that will last forever? So many are obsessed with making investments that will help them live comfortably until their body dies, which at best is 100 years. Planning for our future is wise, but many miss the point that during that 100 years they can be making investments that will be paying dividends Billions of years from now!
Another reason we should thank the Lord for His Church is the environment it produces if we allow it. God does His part; if we do ours the “ekklēsía” will be a very special place!
a. A Place to find Nourishment
Hebrews 10:24–25 Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.
Ephesians 5:18–19 Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts.
Acts 2:46–47 They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity— all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved.
Interestingly, so many in the Body of Christ have decided to switch responsibilities with the Lord. They take it on themselves to focus on numbers and funds…and think that God will just make everyone Christ-like without their participation! God is the One that grows the size and the budget of the Body, our responsibility is to be open to what the Holy Spirit and the Word of God will do to us!
Galatians 5:22–23 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!
2 Timothy 3:16–17 All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.
Individuals that look like Jesus are very attractive to those seeking God! I know we do not like to hear this, but it is something the Scriptures and all history attests to -
Galatians 6:7 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.
Matthew 7:17–18 A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit.
There are many more reasons, we will look at them next time, but let’s meditate on some important questions first.
Meditation: Are you involved in a community of believers? Why or Why not? Do you feel spiritually lonely? Why? What are you doing to change that?
What is your life producing in others and how long will that last?