November 20

There are only a few larger organizations which I can think of that have historically grown to a size where they had power and authority over people: Governments and Religious Groups. Think in terms of how much power the Roman Empire wielded over people’s lives. But beyond these, most businesses were Mom & Pop-type affairs. Jesus was a carpenter working for His earthly father, along with His brothers. He wasn’t working for a large corporation headquartered in Spain. He wasn’t a member of the UBC (United Brotherhood of Carpenters union). He worked the family business because family businesses throughout history were the means of directly adding food to the table, and supporting one’s family’s needs.

Today, however, bigger is better. I remember going to Wal-Mart in the early 90’s and never imagined the monstrosity that a Wal-Mart is today. The malls I grew up with (we had 6 in our area) were getting humongous (in fact, two competing malls in our town were so close to each other, both with different anchor stores (like J.C. Penney and Sears), that they finally connected and merged into one mall so big that you literally could get lost in it.

Churches have followed suit in many ways. They incorporate, they constitute, they follow Robert’s Rules of Order”sometimes closer than they follow the Bible, they own property and buildings and campuses, and in many cases they get excessively large (my family were members of a mega-church for many years that was running sometimes over 12,000 on a Sunday). And while none of these things are necessarily bad (Romans 14:14), many times what ends up occurring is bad: We forget churches are about people.

The Gaithers were very influential in the 20th century contemporary music scene, but were also writers of great hymns and choruses. Thinking about church as people, especially as family, I recall one Gaither song that should describe the intimate and close fellowship of us here:

THE FAMILY OF GOD

You will notice we say “brother

and sister” ‘round here-

It’s because we’re a family

and these folks are so near;

When one has a heartache

we all share the tears,

And rejoice in each victory

In this family so dear.

(Chorus)

I’m so glad I’m a part

of the family of God-

I’ve been washed in the fountain,

cleansed by His blood!

Joint heirs with Jesus

as we travel this sod,

For I’m part of the family,

the family of God.

By Bill and Gloria Gaither, copyright 1970.

 

  • Ephesians 2:19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household
  • Galatians 6:10 So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.

 

Notice the theme in these two verses? We are a household. Remember that in Acts 2:46 the early churches met “from house to house”. Here’s a few other verses:

 

  • Romans 16:3 & 5a Greet Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus… also greet the church that is in their house.
  • Colossians 4:15 Greet the brethren who are in Laodicea and also Nympha and the church that is in her house.
  • I. Timothy 3:15 but in case I am delayed, I write so that you will know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth.
  • Philemon 1:2 and to Apphia our sister, and to Archippus our fellow soldier, and to the church in your house
  • Hebrews 3:6 but Christ was faithful as a Son over His house—whose house we are, if we hold fast our confidence and the boast of our hope firm until the end.
  • I. Peter 2:5 you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

Right doctrine leads to right teaching, and right teaching leads to right belief, and right belief leads to right action.

I believe when we really accept (deep down inside us) the biblical fact that we are the church, that we are the church in action 24/7, and that when we gather for fellowship, prayer, encouragement, and instruction around God’s Word, that we are being the church even if not confined to the walls of our building, then we are truly in a position to grow spiritually and numerically.

That old, cheesy saying goes: 7 days without church makes one weak. That is true, but instead of the church having continual busyness and services and such within the confines of our building, we can and should look for opportunities to reach beyond our walls and be the household of God at all times in all places.

  1. Did you grow up, as I did, being taught and believing that church is:
    1. Primarily about the Sunday gatherings, and maybe even the Wednesday night service as well? ___________________________________________
    2. A location (building)? _________________________________
    3. An official organization? ________________________________
    4. More of a club (membership dues, rites of passage, membership drives, club meetings, etc.) than of a family who is accountable to God and each other? _________________________________
  2. What makes a family a family? I mean, beyond biological connections? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
    1. Do you think WBC does a good job of being this kind of family? ___________________________________________________
      1. Why or why not? ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
    2. If we’re lacking in any areas, what do you think needs to be done to improve our family-orientation? ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
      1. And, how can you contribute to making that happen? ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
    3. Everything always comes back to the Word of God as our church’s authority in all matters. It’s the backbone of our church. It gives us the good, the bad, and the ugly of humanity, and sometimes it has to warn us so that we can correct and adjust and get back into a position of blessability. Look at the following verses and notice the non-family traits discussed. Write down your thoughts next to each one:
  • Galatians 5:15 But if you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another.
  1. ______________________________________________________________________________________________________
  • Colossians 1:10-11 Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment. For I have been informed concerning you, my brethren, by Chloe’s people, that there are quarrels among you.
  1. ______________________________________________________________________________________________________
  • Matthew 20:25-28 But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”
  1. ______________________________________________________________________________________________________
  • I. John 4:20 If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen.
  1. ______________________________________________________________________________________________________
  1. Let each of us remember that when we are saved we have become God’s children (John 1:12), we have collectively become Christ’s Bride (II. Corinthians 11:2), and we are a family. We are what matter to God most. Our building, our programs, our incorporation, our constitution & bylaws, and so forth are important on a certain level, but they are not what really matters to God’s heart. People are what matter.