Jump Start # 2373
Revelation 2:2 “I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance, and that you cannot endure evil men, and you put to the test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you found them to be false.”
Those who have read these opening chapters of Revelation recognize that there is a common pattern to the letters addressed to seven churches of Asia. One of the things we notice is the Lord complimenting and identifying what was good and right with the congregations. This reminds us that the Lord can be pleased and it also shows that the Lord is aware of what we are doing. He knows.
I was talking to a preacher the other day and he asked me, “What do you like about Charlestown Road?” He meant the congregation where I attend. The place where I preach. What did I like about it? That was easy to answer. Within seconds I was running through at least a dozen things that I liked about the congregation, from the leadership and their vision and willingness to try things, to my fellow preacher who works with me, to the spirit and the attitude of the people, to the many things planned and going on. It was an easy question to answer. I had no trouble coming up with a dozen things that I liked about the congregation. And that made me think of our verse. Jesus did that. He told the Ephesian church several things that they were doing well.
This is a good exercise for all of us to do about the congregation where we attend. Our fellowship in a congregation can be like a marriage. When dating, a couple sees no wrong. When married they see nothing right. It’s easy to complain, see problems, see what needs to be done, and that has a way of just being a rain cloud on our spirit and attitude. The way some talk, you wonder why they continue to be a part of a congregation that seems to have nothing going right. It doesn’t take too much of this to really get a person discouraged, doubting and wondering what’s the point.
What do you like about where you attend? Put some thought to that. Sure, there are always things that could be better. You and I could step it up more than we do, but still, look around, give it some thought and maybe even make a list.
Here are some things to think about:
- A fellowship that is based upon Jesus and loves one another. That’s a great start. The fact that they allow folks like you and me through the front doors is worth noting. I’ve been to the White House. You don’t just walk through the front doors. I’ve been to Buckingham Palace. You don’t just walk through the front doors. There are some places that unless you are invited you are not allowed. Try attending a wedding that you have not been invited to. There is a word for that, “Wedding crasher.” You and I are not perfect, but God loves us and so does His people. We are allowed to worship on Sunday, even when we may not have the clothes like others do. The collection plate is passed and we may not have much to put in, but no one will say anything. We are allowed to sing, even those of us who could never make the high school choir nor carry a tune in a bucket. They allow us to sing. We are allowed to bow our heads and join in the prayers that are offered. They will even pray for us or our family if we ask them. We are allowed to open our Bibles and learn. We didn’t have to sign up, pay money, like a college class. And, what we learn is the best stuff in the world, because it’s about God’s word.
Maybe the place could stand a fresh paint job and a good ole’ fashioned dusting and spring cleaning, but look beyond that. Look what we get to do, worship God with others. We see lives changing. We see forgiveness applied. We see worry and fear disappearing as faith soars. Our fellowship is a wonderful thing.
- We get to be in the presence of God. He hears what we sing. His heart is open to our prayers. He is thrilled to see His word taught with passion and conviction and those words fall upon listening ears. He loves to see hearts that are open and carrying for others. You’d have to be pretty high up on the political ladder to have a sit down with the president of this country. That won’t happen to most of us, ever. But to think you and I can be in the presence of God, not once in a life time, but all the time and every time we worship is amazing. To know that God is interested in our lives. God is seeing what is going on in our lives. God trusts us enough to put His kingdom into our hands. That is simply amazing.
- We get to participate in helping shape a congregation of God’s people. Through our influence, our spirit and attitude, our forgiveness and grace and our teaching and leading, we are molding and shaping hearts for the Lord. Some congregations are cold and indifferent. Some are warm and loving. Some, you just don’t want to leave. Why are some one way and others are a different way? It’s the people. The members make the congregation. So, in Revelation, Laodicea was a lukewarm church, because the members were lukewarm. That’s the way they were in worship and that’s the way they were at home. Why had Ephesus left their first love? Because the members had. That’s the way they were in worship and that’s the way they were at home. So, a friendly, warm and welcoming congregation will be that way when we are that way. That way in worship and that way at home. A strong, Biblical church is that way because the members are strong and Biblical. And, you and I are allowed to help turn the temperature of a congregation. By our actions, a church can be cold or it can be warm. What we say to one another and what we say to visitors, sets that temperature. So often, some want to walk into a congregation and find it running smoothly and just sit and enjoy the ride. They do not realize that their presence will either keep things going in that direction, or it can turn things the other way. Complaining, bitter, not connecting with others, being selfish, all those things impact a congregation. You and I help set the tone, temperature and the direction of a congregation.
It is important to be able to see the good around us. That makes us thankful, responsible and appreciative of those who are doing so much. There is a story about a guy who hated his farm. He hated the house. He hated the pond. He hated the barn. He was fed up and ready to sell the place. He got a relator and put a sign in his yard. He started reading about other farms that were listed for sale. One caught his attention. It wasn’t too large. It was a wonderful setting. It was just what he always wanted. He called the agent and wanted to go see the place. The relator explained that he was reading his own listing. She had put a positive side to his farm and in his discouragement he never saw what a great place he had. The sign was taken down and he stayed on his little farm.
I tend to think many of us could do the same thing about the congregation we attend. We can get so discouraged about all the things that need fixin’ around the place and all the things that do not seem to be going well, that we fail to see what a wonderful blessing it is to be a part of God’s family. Many folks overseas would love to trade places with you. They would love to have all the spiritual tools available that you do. They would love to have a variety of song leaders; gifted preachers that come in and teach; to have the finances to provide material; to have an eldership that leads them. Take a look around and see what you have. Maybe it’s time to take down the “For sale” sign are realize just how blessed we are.
What do you like about your congregation? Could you list ten things?