As I drove north earlier this week, I enjoyed the sweetness of my valentine's day gift (an ipod). I listen to several different podcasts (mostly sermons) each week.
This setting was good. Listening to my favorite preachers and almost everyone pointed me to some thoughts God has been sending my way the last week or so. THEN in the conference I was attending some of the same thoughts emerge. This is God, right there in front of me, almost screaming, but in His grace and fatherly way sharing with me. Good stuff:
Psalm 69:9 (nlt) --- Passion for your house has consumed me...
Romans 12:5 (nlt) --- so it is with Christ's body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.
1 Corinthians 12:12 (nlt) --- The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ.
Ephesians 1:23 (nlt) --- And the church is his body; it is made full and complete by Christ, who fills all things everywhere with himself.
I heard one preacher say something like this a long time ago: saying you love Jesus but don't like the church is like saying I like you but I hate your kids.
Hope that makes sense. What God is saying is so deep but so clear to me. We are to be building up His body, the church. It is not about millions and millions of individuals doing their own thing. It is about millions and millions of people becoming one in Christ. We are stronger when we work together.
God never intended His church to be splintered. He intends to use His church, Jesus' body on earth now, to point people to Him.
At the Whiteboard conference, Mark Dever talked about this as well. Here are some notes I took from what He had to say:
God has put Himself on display through the local church for the world to see His character (see Ephesians 3).
God has called us to congregationally centered lives, relating together that compounds our witness and confounds the world.
Our churches ought to be places where growing as a Christian is normal, yet not growing is what we have settled for.
Think of your church as a community and not as an event. Kingdom growth is much more important than numerical growth.
last note (and huge): God cares more about the corporate whole than He does about individuals.
That last note is huge, and please do not take it the wrong way. God loves people. He always has and always will. God is still the only Savior and saves and forgives. He always has and will until Jesus returns. But He saved us to put in community with other Christians so that we would have far greater impact for Him. Alone we are weak. Together we are strong.
That is food for thought.
Colossians 1:18 (nlt) --- Christ is also the head of the church,which is his body. He is the beginning,supreme over all who rise from the dead. So he is first in everything.
Think about it....(FYI, I will talk about this some on Sunday)