By R. W. McAlister
I daresay that all of us want the best congregation of the Lord’s church possible - I sure do. So if that’s the case, we need to understand that the betterment of the congregation begins with each of us. Ask yourself these questions:
If every member of this congregation were like me, what would our attendance be? We know that Hebrews 10:25 commands that we ‘not forsake the assembling of ourselves together as the manner of some is,’ so if every member were like me, how full would the pews be on Sunday or Wednesday or for a Gospel Meeting? Would I let any excuse – fatigue, mild headache, visiting family, civic meeting, rainy weather – even work - keep me from assembling with the saints? Or would I have the attitude of David, who said, “I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the LORD?” (Psalm 122:1).
If every member of this church were just like me, what would our contribution be? Would our treasury be overflowing, or would we be barely getting by financially? In I Cor. 16:2, the Bible says, “Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him...” All that God expects of any of us is that we give back to Him in accordance with how much He has given us. The least God ever accepted was 10% (Numbers 18:21-26), and the most was 100% (Luke 21:4). We can surely find a happy medium somewhere in between.
If every member of the congregation were like me, what would its influence be? Would it be like leaven? In Matthew 13:33, Jesus says, “The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.” The hidden yeast, although very small in measure, passes on its qualities to the flour until it’s all leavened.
Would the church have the influence of salt? In Matthew 5:13, Jesus says, “Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted?” Salt acts like a preservative and prevents spoilage. If the followers of Christ fail to preserve and spread the Gospel as the salt of the earth, then we’ll be of no use to the Lord and will be cast out and trampled underfoot!
If every member were just like me, what would our home influence be? Would we be faithfully married to one partner for life, as God intended (Eph. 5:31; Heb. 13:4)? Would we love and live peacefully with our spouse (Eph.5:28)? Would we love our kids and teach them the ways of the Lord (Eph. 6:4)?
If every member of this congregation were just like me, what would our saving influence be? Proverbs 11:30 teaches, “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise.” Is each individual a soul-winning member of the body of Christ? If we duck our heads and run out of the room when a religious discussion breaks out, can we truly say we’re soul-winners for Jesus? Our Savior commands in Mark 16:15, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” We can’t just sit back and say, “People know where we are, they’ll come and see us if they have questions.”
If every member of this church were like me, what would our reputation be? Acts 2:46 tell us that the First Century Christians continued “daily with one accord in the temple, and broke bread from house to house, and did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart.” They studied daily and were welcome in peoples’ houses. Verse 47 says they had “favor with all the people.” Ask yourself, “If every member were like me, would that be this congregation’s reputation?”
If every member were just like me, what would our spiritual strength be? We need to answer all of these questions honestly, but especially this one. Ephesians 6:10 says to “be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might.” Can we honestly say that we’re strong in the Lord? Do we blame Him for our trials and troubles? In James 1:13, James writes by inspiration, “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man.” In plain English, “Don’t blame God when you’re tempted! God can’t be tempted by evil and He doesn’t use evil to tempt others.” Our ailments and difficulties are not punishment from God and He doesn’t try to lead us away from righteousness! We’re foolish if we think He does!
If every member were just like me, what would the growth of the church be like? Again we go to Acts 2:47, which tells us that the Lord added to the church daily those that were being saved. This happened after Peter preached the first gospel sermon. If every member were just like me, would there be additions today because of some part I played in teaching someone?
What sort of friendliness would there be, if every member were just like me? Would we bolt for the back door as soon as the last song was sung, or would we stay around to meet and visit with people? In Proverbs 18:24, the Bible says, “A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.” Churches of Christ should be places that people enjoy worshiping and visiting because true Christians should be the friendliest people anyone ever meets.
How many outsiders would be invited to church if every member were just like me? Would the visitors equal or outnumber the “regulars,” or would we hardly ever see a visitor? (Isa. 2:3).
How many visitors would be invited into our homes, if every member were just like me? In Hebrews 13:1&2, the inspired writer says, “Let brotherly love continue. 2Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” Remember also that Jesus said if we show hospitality to the least among us, we show it to Him (Matt. 25:40). What if every member were just like me? What kind of church would this be? Give it some thought.
- R. W. McAlister preaches for the Anna Church of Christ in Anna, IL.He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://www.annachurchofchrist.com/