Thursday, April 24, 2008

Church Etiquette Series - The Motivation


Behavior is often the result of attitude. How a person feels about someone or something will most likely affect how they act or react towards them in a given situation. It is the same with Church. How we feel about church will affect how we act in and towards church.

Why an individual attends church often determines where that individual attends church and where an individual attends church many times reveals why that individual attends church.

We tend to fellowship with people of like precious faith. (2 Peter 1:1) In other words, we gravitate towards people who believe like we do who have the same purposes and goals in life.

That is as it should be in accordance with the Apostle Paul’s instructions to be of the same mind, speaking and minding the same thing, with one spirit and in agreement. (1 Corinthians 1:10)

This does not mean that there are not some differences in revelation and spiritual application according to personal convictions. Romans 14 is completely devoted to the doctrine of personal conviction and how to handle the differences which do exist within each body of Believers.

I once heard a man say that if you find the perfect church, don’t join it … you will ruin it. I don’t know about that but I do know that we are called, equipped and set into a local church body as it pleases God and therefore it should please us to be where God wants us and while there we should endeavor to complete the work God has given that particular church to accomplish. Our goal is to sharpen others around us with our counsel and countenance and not to dull them with our blunt blows of opposition.

I know you already know these things so let’s look at our:

Key Scriptures: 1 Timothy 3 NKJV

14 ¶ These things I write to you, though I hope to come to you shortly;

15 but if I am delayed, I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.

In part one of this series we discussed the necessity of protecting church doctrine. Why? Not because any one church has the whole truth or that any one pastor or group is given to understand all things, but rather because God has called each person and every church congregation to accomplish specific portions of His purpose.

Just as the ministry of Jesus was broken down into what we recognize as the Five Fold Ministries of Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Pastor and Teacher, so is the whole ministry of heaven broken down into different callings, giftedness and responsibilities and then given to each local church body according to God’s divine purpose and will.

1 Corinthians 12

18 But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased.

19 And if they were all one member, where would the body be?

20 But now indeed there are many members, yet one body.

Just as the Children of Israel made up one family, one nation but were yet made up of 12 tribes, thousands of individual families and millions of individual people, so is the body of Christ.

The Church is a many membered body.

And the world wide church of each generation is made up of many denominations, callings, gifting, graces, represented in thousands of local church families and millions of individual church members. Each individual, every church family and all denominations having been given their certain name, calling, gifting, identity, vision and purpose by God as it pleased Him.

So, for one local church or denomination to focus more strongly on one aspect of the Gospel message or experience is totally understandable and necessary to properly outfit them to accomplish the purpose to which God has called them.

While much of the secular world is teaching balance perhaps what we need is a good healthy dose of sharpness and focus, without the envy and jealously of one member or church saying that for some reason they a better than another or that others are somehow less equipped because they are not like me.

Let’s pick up with this thought from two scriptural sources so that we might know how we are to behave in the church of the Living God and as the church of the Living God. Perhaps we can see the motivation behind protecting the teaching, instruction, vision and purpose of each local body and every individual church.

1 Timothy 1 NKJV

5 ¶ Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith,

* The motivation of structure and protected doctrine is not self serving but rather body preserving … from a pure heart of conviction.

6 from which some, having strayed, have turned aside to idle talk,

* Teaching from the wrong motivation or competitive doctrine will cause many to stray.

7 desiring to be teachers of the law, understanding neither what they say nor the things which they affirm.

* Many who are novice or perhaps not responsible for the sheepfold may not understand the dynamics of these truths or the rippling effects sharing competitive or divisive doctrine can cause.

* Each church and every individual should learn from many teachers but from teachers who know, hold, respect and protect the purpose of a church’s doctrine and calling. Otherwise one may be guilty of putting new wine into old wine skins and causing division in the body, loss of focus, vision and strength and ultimately thwart the purposes of God for that church or individual.

* For many years we owned farm animals, lots of them, especially horses. People love horses and it seems that from time to time I would find some well meaning individual horse lover or family stopped by one of my pasture gates feeding one of my friendly, always hungry horses. I would put a smile on my face and walk or drive out to them understanding that they meant well and I, with a kind look and friendly word, would first look closely at what and how much they had fed the horse and move myself between them and the horse, keeping the horse from eating more by holding the horse and allowing the people to pet them or ride them while I answered questions and made friends.

I accepted that they did not understand the complexity of a horse’s digestive tract and just how dangerous it can be to introduce new foods or rich in protein foods, green grasses or foods which cause gas into a horse’s diet. It can and often does cause colic, from mild to severe and at times it results in foundering and permanent disability or death. Some horses are more susceptible to colic than are others. These include the young and the small, the old and the weak … also the very high dollar, well bred for some reason.

People mean well but unless they have owned and had long term care of a horse or received some education they just can’t imagine or understand the danger and the expense and sometimes the years it takes to achieve recovery. And besides this, unless you are the primary care giver of an animal it is best to not feed that animal without the care giver’s knowledge, permission and instructions. Doing otherwise, even from the best of motivations can be disastrous. Unfortunately, even with the friendliest approaches with the kindest of smiles, at times offends people when they are told that their good intentions are causing potentially irrecoverable problems. What is a person to do? Church and even family is really not much different.

* This is one reason it is always a good idea to submit to the lead pastor of a church before presuming to teach doctrine or otherwise feed and instruct people whom God has placed under some else’s spiritual stewardship.

* Remember … the motivation of this commandment to guard what the sheep eat, the doctrine of the church, is love.

Now let’s turn to 1 Corinthians 12 for the body concept.

1 Corinthians 12 NKJV

1 ¶ Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be ignorant:

4 There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.

5 There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord.

6 And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all.

7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all:

8 for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit,

9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit,

10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues.

11 But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.

12 ¶ For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ.

13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.

14 For in fact the body is not one member but many.

15 If the foot should say, "Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body," is it therefore not of the body?

16 And if the ear should say, "Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body," is it therefore not of the body?

17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling?

18 But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased.

19 And if they were all one member, where would the body be?

20 But now indeed there are many members, yet one body.

21 And the eye cannot say to the hand, "I have no need of you"; nor again the head to the feet, "I have no need of you."

22 No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary.

23 And those members of the body which we think to be less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor; and our unpresentable parts have greater modesty,

24 but our presentable parts have no need. But God composed the body, having given greater honor to that part which lacks it,

25 that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another.

26 And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.

27 ¶ Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually.

28 And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues.

29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles?

30 Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?

31 But earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way.