The Church as Home

I really like the image of “home” – what is more welcoming than a home?  The warmth of a house that is safe and and secure – at home the lives of everyone is valued and guarded – encouragement to be better is granted but being perfect is not expected!

That’s what I think church life should reflect.

Here’s what we know:
And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession–to the praise of his glory.
– Ephesians 1:13,14

 We are part of the community of believers… if you look at the Old Testament there are 87 references to the nation of Israel being referred to as a “community”…

“Jacob said to Joseph, “God Almighty appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan, and there he blessed me and said to me, ‘I am going to make you fruitful and will increase your numbers. I will make you a community of peoples, and I will give this land as an everlasting possession to your descendants after you.’ “ – Genesis 48:3,4

The whole Israelite community set out from Elim and came to the Desert of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai,… –  Exodus 16:1

“No one is to be in the Tent of Meeting from the time Aaron goes in to make atonement in the Most Holy Place until he comes out, having made atonement for himself, his household and the whole community of Israel. “ – Leviticus 16:17

So back to Ephesians 1:13,14
And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession–to the praise of his glory.
– Ephesians 1:13,14

You were included – can you see those words?  Moreover, in believing in Christ you received something.  The Holy Spirit – a deposit, a guarantee…

Everyone who has asked Christ to be their Saviour has this in common – as you look at each other can you see the Spirit of God in each other?  Can The Church be a community of grace? Can we see what we have in common.  Most of the time, we only see the differences – but what we really need to see is what Christ has done for each other!  Are you forgiven – who else is?  Are you guided by the Spirit of God – who else is?

If community is to be real for us then this will be the litmus test.

The importance of us develop friendships within The Church cannot be overemphasized. Relationships are the glue that holds together. Friendships are the key to retaining those who are searching!

“A friend once told me of a survey he took in a church. When he asked, “Why did you join this church?” 93% of the members said, “I joined because of the pastor.”

He then asked, “What if the pastor leaves? Will you leave?” 93% said “No.”  When he asked why they wouldn’t leave, the response was, “Because I have friends here!”

Lyle Schaller has done extensive research that shows the more friendships a person has in a congregation, the less likely they are to become inactive or leave. In contrast, I once read about a survey where they asked four hundred church dropouts why they left their churches. Over 75% of the respondents said, “I didn’t feel anyone cared whether I was there or not.”

Some have very strong friendships – you would die for each other!  But sometimes those friendships are so strong that no one else can get inside your friendship circles… it is like a group of chairs in a circle facing inward with arms locked together…the conversation is interesting, the people friendly …but can anyone else become part of the group?

“Paying the price” is sometimes painful!  Community must remain open if it is to grow.

In addition, you may ask me why does The Church want to grow?

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”  – Matthew 28:19,20

Jesus said this:

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.
By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” – John 13:34,35
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