C O M M U N I T Y     C h u r c h

New Christians:  (this is lesson 3)

In the last lesson I wrote to you about your relationship with other Christians. God has supernaturally joined us together in the church; in one sense with every other true Christian who has ever lived, but in a more recognizable way with each member of the local congregation to which He appoints us. The Bible says that should anyone suffer in the local congregation, the whole congregation suffers too. Sometimes that is why it is difficult to stay 'plugged in' to the local church body . . . because we feel each other's pain. But if we willingly share each other's grief, we will also share in one another's comforts and joys.

So God has appointed us to a place in the church . . . called the body of Christ. If the church is the body, then what place does Jesus have? The Bible tells us that Jesus' place in the body is that He is the head. In our physical bodies, the head is where the brain, eyes, ears, nose and mouth are. The head is where the face is. With those parts located at the head, we see, hear, smell, taste, speak, smile, frown. Really, when you think about it, the rest of the body serves the head and supports the head. The rest of the body gets all its directions from the head. The rest of the body is totally dependant upon the head. (Think about what shape we are in when we 'loose our heads' either literally or figuratively!)

It is also true that our physical body's head cannot exist or function without the rest of the body. God has also appointed that relationship with Christ. Since Jesus, in His resurrection body, is seated in heaven at the right hand of the Father, He Himself is not on the earth. The Father has appointed that Jesus' ministry on earth is to exist and function through the church. We do need to remember, though, that Jesus is the head and we are the body. Jesus is our Lord and master, we are the servants and laborers. We as the church congregation are to get all our directions from the head. We are to serve the head . . . the head does not serve us. We are totally dependant upon Jesus as the head. (Now think about what the church is like when we 'loose our head!')

So, how do we, as the 'body' of Christ, take directions from the head of the body who is Jesus seated at the right hand of the throne of God? God expects us to know Him, His purposes, His plans and His promises. God reveals all of these to us in a number of ways. One is through His creation, the very earth and nature around us. (Ro. 1:20) God also reveals Himself to us through prayer, teaching, other people, and circumstances. How are we to know between what God says and what is our own imagination or the ideas of others? By careful, constant, prayerful Bible study, we learn about God's nature and His purposes. In times of prayer and worship (both private and public) God will give individuals specific guidance as we seek His directions. Often times God will confirm His specific directions by reminding us of scriptural principles, and His nature and purposes as revealed and recorded in the Bible. We can also confirm His directions to us by asking other Christians to pray with us and for us. The church can know God's directions for ministry as members of the church recognize that God is giving them similar desires and vision for what the church should do in a particular matter. As we meet together for our 'business meeting,' the various servant leaders of the church will give their reports (holding themselves accountable for their ministries to the church) and will present matters for the church to make decisions on. After hearing the reports and discussing the decisions that need to be made, we should take time to pray and ask God for his direction. After a period of prayer, we then can ask the members present if they believe that God is for or against a particular decision. As we see strong majorities develop, we trust that God is guiding His church. In our private decision making, we need to take time to seek God's will through study and prayer and then wait for God to give us clear directions.

Remember that you have publicly proclaimed Jesus to be your Lord and Master. Your life is not your own anymore! (That is a good thing, because people who still rule their lives are still bound for hell.) Jesus is your head. Jesus is your decision maker. It takes practice to quit making decisions for ourselves. It also takes the encouragement of other Christians to help us grow toward this goal. The Bible says that God's ways are not at all like our old ways. Checking out what the Bible and other Christians say will help us understand God's ways and we will slowly see that God's ways will become our new ways. Pray hard. Study hard. And don't let the devil isolate you from the body. (Just how would you like to be a big toe cut off from the body? What a thought . . . almost as bad as 'losing your head.')

Pastor Eliot

If you have questions, e-mail Bro. Eliot Roberts, pastor

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