By Ron Thomas
Does a Christian owe anything to the local church? “No! In fact, the local church owes me. Because I am here (with my family), the church owes me.”
“What does the church owe you?”
“They owe me a comfortable environment, teachers for my kids in the classroom, a perfect (or nearly so) environment where there are no disruptions, leaders that are spiritually involved in the lives of each who attend, a leave me alone, let me be as I want to be way of thinking (which means, do not confront me concerning something I have, may be doing, or will soon participate in doing).”
“Wow! With all that, you still insist you owe nothing to the church?”
“Yes, and if I am offended in this or something else, there is another church down the road who will take us in, and be glad to hear why we left.”
This over simplified conversation is not far removed from how some people think in the congregation (that is, any congregation of the Lord’s church in any location).
From a biblical perspective, does a Christian owe anything to the local church? Yes, a good bit. Consider the following:
Since the Christian should already Love the Lord, that is, obey His commands, he/she is also to love the church. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself up for it (Eph. 5:25, ASV). If you love as Christ loved, you’ll love the church.
To love the church, a Christian must also have Understanding about why he or she is to love the church. In the same context, Paul said this about understanding, that he might present the church to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish (5:27). To not have love and not have understanding allows a spot and wrinkle to exist.
On the other hand, if you have love and understanding, then you should also have Loyalty to the body of Christ. What does this mean in practical terms? Peter and John knew: But Peter and the apostles answered and said, We must obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29). Your loyalty to the Lord supersedes everyone and everything else. If not, when Judgment Day occurs, how will you answer Him who saw your response to be, “Let us obey a man more than God so we can have peace and tranquility at home.”
Since your loyalty to the Lord is strong, your Presence will never be doubted. “I am tired of you saying I have to attend church services!” the Holy Spirit said, and let us consider one another to provoke unto love and good works; not forsaking our own assembling together, as the custom of some is, but exhorting one another; and so much the more, as ye see the day drawing nigh (Heb. 10:24-25). If you’re tired of the exhortation, then you are tired of the Lord. Before forsaking actually takes place, one begins with finding a reason (such as a pandemic) to miss for the first time.
Your love, understanding, loyalty and presence is in place, now what do you owe the Lord’s church? Your Support, in two areas. First, the Lord’s body needs workers within the congregation. The building needs attention, the ground needs attention, the Bible class program needs attention, those unable to make services anymore because of health need attention. “I can’t do any of these things!” “Really? You can’t or won’t?”
Lastly (because of space limitations), the Lord’s church needs an Evangelistic spirit in her members. Do you not have the love of Christ within you? If so, do you want others to know about it? Yes, in both cases. Then put your hand to the plow, look forward, and begin all over again.
- Ron Thomas preacher for the Sunrush Church of Christ, Chillicothe, OH. He may be contacted through the congregation's website. http://sunrushchurchofchrist.com/