Don’t be a “Christian Rambo”

Lately I’ve become more aware of the importance of church in the life of a Christian. I guess I always knew it was important but this particular doctrine is starting to take root in my heart and mind. Church is a fundamental building block of spiritual growth and of daily and weekly encouragement. Church helps to sustain the Christian through the week ahead and prepares them for a lifetime of service.

Chris, the Ministree Trainee at my church in Preston, was preaching on Hebrews 10:19-39 last week as we’ve been going through the book in the evenings. I feel very encouraged by clearly seeing the necessity and joy of being part of the local church. I am always greatly encouraged by the church around me (Church = people not buildings), spurring one another on towards love and good deeds (v24).

The writer to the Hebrews writes;

‘Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.’ (v25)

Hebrews is a book full of warnings – warnings about drifting in the Christian life. The people of God coming together in praise, prayer, fellowship, all under the authority of God’s Word is a great source of encouragement. This is definitely my experience too.

Church Consumerism

If you live in the UK, you live in a culture of consumerism. It’s all about ‘Number One’, what can I get out of the deal?’ Everything is about me. Christ calls his church to be distinctive in this area;

‘Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death—
even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:5-8)

Yes we will be encouraged by meeting together on a Sunday, and it is the role of the pastor-teacher to preach the Word to prepare God’s people for works of service (Ephesians 4:11-12), therefore there is definite gain by going to Church on a Sunday or by going to a midweek Bible study, but this does not advocate a consumerist approach to church. We come to serve (that’s the Christian life), to become more like Christ, the ultimate servant – who laid his life down for His sheep. There is no greater show of love than this (John 15:13).

I need to repent. Even when the Word is being read or preached in church, I’m thinking “what is God saying to me?’.” There is nothing necessarily wrong with this; God does speak to us individually through His Word. But what about the other members of my church family – I should also be thinking “What is God to saying to ‘us’ as a church?” “And what about my friend sitting over there, what could I encourage or challenge them with afterwards?”. “And how about my friend who isn’t here tonight?”.

It’s a real challenge to rid ourselves of this consumerism. But by God’s grace it is possible and we’ve got God the Holy Spirit to wage war against the sinful nature! He gives us new desires and makes it possible to say “No” to sin, and “Yes” to righteousness; we CAN become more like Christ. But this is not an individual process, that’s why God gave us brothers and sisters. Praise be to God for the family He has given me. Amen.

Further Reading;

God’s New Community – Graham Beynon

Stop Dating the Church – Joshua Harris

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