Jump Start # 2854
Titus 1:13 “This testimony is true. For this cause reprove them severely that they may be sound in the faith.”
NOTE: Monday is a holiday. There will not be a Jump Start that day.
One thing that has come out of this pandemic is better hygiene. We’ve washed and washed our hands so many times in a day. Hand sanitizers are found just about everywhere you go. I keep a small one in my car and have a nice glass dispenser that sets on my desk. Restaurants are finding out that handing everyone the same menus are not the healthiest thing to do. Even in our worship services, everyone touching the bread and passing the plates is not the cleanest way to do things. We’ve learned how to be more sanitary in our everyday life.
Our English word ‘hygiene’ comes from a Greek word that is defined as ‘uncorrupted, well, pure, healthy.’ In our Bibles that Greek word is translated “sound.” Sound in the faith is the way our verse says it. In Titus, the word sound is used five times. Paul refers to sound doctrine, sound in the faith, sound in speech.
To be sound is to be healthy. A sound Christian is a spiritually healthy Christian. A sound church is a spiritually healthy church. Much too often we have used a limited definition for sound. The word sound is often defined as the opposite of progressive or institutional. A sound church, using that limited definition, would be a church that is conservative. Now, that conservative church may not be healthy. It may be very sickly. In fact, it may even be dead, yet, because it is not progressive, folks will say, “that’s a sound church.”
I like sticking to the language of the Bible. A sound church is a healthy church. So, when you read about Sardis in Revelation, they were not progressive, yet they were not healthy. God called them ‘dead.’ Sound in faith. Sound in speech. Sound in doctrine. Healthy, is the meaning.
What are the signs of a healthy church:
First, let’s take away the obvious things that have nothing to do with the health of a congregation. The size doesn’t matter. Big or little, a church can be sickly or healthy. It’s not about the church building or how well they are using technology. In the first century, technology was writing a letter. In the first century, the congregations met in someone’s home.
Second, a healthy church is not absent of problems. Churches have problems. And, the reason they have problems is because they have us in them. People have problems. We have issues, baggage, histories, and are on this journey together. Sometimes we bump each other. Sometimes we get selfish. Sometimes we don’t want to forgive. And, all of that will cause stress, strains and problems within a congregation.
Third, a healthy church is not one that does not need to improve. We all do. We all could do more, grow more, include more, help more, and walk more closer to the Lord. If we didn’t need to improve, we could reach a certain level and cancel Bible classes. Why have them, if one doesn’t need to improve. But that’s not the case. There are always things we can learn and improve upon. Developing more leaders, teaching others how to function in the kingdom, these are all on-going aspects of a healthy congregation.
So, what does a healthy congregation look like:
First, it’s made up of healthy Christians. Within the congregation are those who are sound in faith, in speech and in doctrine. You can’t make a healthy church out of unhealthy Christians. The church is a picture of all of us. If we are sickly, so will the church. If we are cold, indifferent, so will the church.
Healthy Christians—not perfect, but sound. In their daily lives, they are making choices that reflect the kingdom. They are thinking about the Lord and ways to teach and encourage. Healthy Christians are growing. That are not stationary. They are not stuck. They are not stagnate. They are growing in faith. They are growing in love. They are growing in service. Young and old. Rich and poor. Big families and small families. Single and married. Newly married and grandparents. What a mixture. What a group. But healthy as they continue to more closer and closer to the Lord.
This is where a healthy church begins. Not accepting old, tired attitudes that are judgmental and critical. Not being satisfied with doing as little as possible. A healthy plant is a growing plant. A healthy child is a growing child. And, a healthy church is a growing church.
Second, it is made up of those who are looking into the future. A healthy church isn’t satisfied with where they are, but what’s next. Who’s the next leaders? Who’s the next teachers? Developing. Mentoring. Legacy. The difference between planting posts and planting trees is that in five years that post will be the same. In five years, that tree will have grown and will provide shade for others. A healthy church allows young men to get some experience by allowing them to preach and teach. With guidance, those young men become stronger and more confident in what they do. Planting posts or planting trees? There is a difference.
Third, a healthy church is a busy church. Lots of things going on. Many of those things are behind the scenes and few know about them. Cards being sent. Food being taken. Rides given. People calling one another. Lots of connections. Lots of love shared. Lots of hope expressed. Not all from the shepherds. Not all from the preacher. But from healthy Christians who just want to help others. Busy, busy, busy.
As I write this, I have tape on my arm. I’ve been to the doctor today. Lab work. All routine. He looked me over and look at the numbers. He teases me because it’s all routine. He doesn’t get to lecture me about what I ought to be doing. In fact, today, he told me, if all his patients were like me, he’d be out of business. I guess that’s his funny way of saying I was healthy. And, when one isn’t healthy, very often, one doesn’t feel well. A course of action has to be taken to try to turn things around. And, sometimes it just can’t be done. I know the day is coming when my doctor will not be smiling. There will be a time when things may be seriously wrong. That’s the nature of lives. We are all headed toward death. But for now, I am thankful and I enjoy health.
For a Christian and for a church the same expressions need to be uttered: thankfulness to the Lord and enjoying what is found among us. Health. It is so important. There are things we can do that will ruin our health—that is true physically and that is true spiritually.
Sound in the faith—it means to be spiritually healthy.