Jump Start # 3073
Acts 20:28 “Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.”
We love our safety and security. It gives us a peace of mind. We have all kinds of passwords to protect our identity. We have locks on our doors. Many businesses have cameras as a form of security. Many congregations now have hired security to keep everyone safe. Passwords., locks, doors, safety and security.
There is another form of security that is often missing these days in our congregations. It’s not something that can be bought in a store. It doesn’t come in a box and is not mounted on a wall. The kind of security I’m talking about, is the watching and guarding that is done by the shepherds in the church. One of their roles is to keep the church safe. The word from our passage today is “guard.” This is much more than locking the doors at the end of services and making safe deposits of the weekly contribution. Keeping our congregations safe involves protecting the members from spiritual influences that pull faith away from the Word of God. These influences are all around us and are saturated on social media. Every opinion, every wild idea, every false idea is easily found on social media. No longer is the wolf disguised as one of the sheep. The wolf walks boldly and proudly in broad day light these days. He challenges doctrine, twists truths, and confuses the hearts of those who are not settled in their faith. At stake is the unity of the congregation.
Protecting the church falls under the job description of shepherds. This often involves making tough decisions and this kind of work isn’t pleasant. The wellbeing and the safety of the church is at hand. How are shepherds to protect the church?
First, they must have their ear to the ground. They must notice what people are talking about. Many shepherds do not want to be on Facebook or Twitter, but those are the powerful platforms that people use to share thoughts and ideas. Things are being said and many shepherds are not aware of it. Social media can be a platform for every disgruntled saint to find a sympathetic ear that encourages more disenchantment with the pattern and plan of God. This doesn’t mean that they are to be Facebook police, but they are not to have their heads buried in the sand. What blogs, podcasts, books are the members talking about? Do you know?
Second, solid preaching and teaching must be the core of what is being publicly offered to the congregation. Our faith is built upon the word of God and that word must be taught over and over and over. Ignorance allows the devil to gain a foothold in hearts, homes and the congregation. Error runs from the truth. Solid preaching that explains, illustrates and builds upon the word of God is a must.
Third, we are instructed to be diligent to preserve the bond of unity. Some are not diligent about that. Some are not wanting that at all. Some have an agenda of dividing and splitting the church. Their hearts are not content with what God says. They are not wanting to be different from the world. They desire to be like all the churches in town. So, they introduce ideas, concepts and activities that are not Biblically based nor a part of God’s eternal pattern. The Romans were told to mark those who were not interested in walking in the ways of God. Keep an eye on them is the instruction from Heaven. Don’t place them in the position of teaching, when they do not understand nor accept what the Bible says.
In our homes, if a teenager pulled out a cigarette and started smoking, we’d immediately tell him to stop and to leave if he persisted. If someone can into our homes and started using foul language, we’d stop him. However, if someone in a Bible class started advocating strange ideas, criticizing the way the Bible teaches, we much too often, give that person a pass. We allow it. We allow poison to fill the air and hearts to be confused, because he is one of our members. And, right there, the spiritual passwords have been compromised, the spiritual locks have been removed and the doors of safety have been left open. A wolf has been invited in and now trouble looms. The spirit of rebellion is allowed to grow and spread until one day, a whole group announces that they are taking over the direction of the church, or more often, they are splitting the church. Unity has been crushed. The work has been hurt. The church suffers.
What can be done? What do we do to the smoker that comes into our homes? What do we do with the person who cusses in our homes? They are told to stop or they are shown the door. Protecting the flock may necessitate shepherds asking someone to leave. You are no longer welcome here because you do not have a spirit of unity. You must leave because you refuse to follow the traditions of the apostles. Ending fellowship towards someone with a rebel heart is often necessary to keep the congregation safe.
Through the years we’ve allowed every dog in town to come in without changing because our thirst for a larger congregation has superseded our desire to make disciples, and churches have suffered. Congregations have splintered and divided over every opinion and most should not have been expressed. They have kept hidden sins secret rather than demanding repentance and righteous living.
Keeping the congregation safe is essential. Without the proper steps a congregation is plague with sickness, disease and error.
It is amazing and something to be thankful for that God has designed a level of safety within our congregations. Rather than fighting this, we need to see how wonderful this is.