Saturday, August 7, 2010
And some days after Paul said unto Barnabas, Let us go again and visit our brethren in every city where we have preached the word of the Lord, and see how they do. [Acts 15:36 KJV]
Don’t you wish you could have made both those trips? The one where they first preached the word, and the return to check on them?
We know problems ensued in many of those cities, attested to by Paul’s letters to the churches. We know John wrote of some of the situations in Revelation. Not all the churches were doing well. My, my – how things are unchanged after two thousand years!!
The message remains the same. Jesus, God’s Messiah, came through the love of God to seek and save, died to provide salvation, rose again in fulfillment of God’s promise and extends an invitation to join Him in eternity. The responses remain pretty much the same, too, requiring pastors to be available 24/7 to respond to crises within their congregation.
Stop thinking about the churches in those cities for a moment, don’t even think of the brethren. Let’s dwell on seeing how WE do.
For those of us who are Christians, we’ve made a commitment to follow Him (2 Corinthians 3:3). If we are members of a church, we’ve walked down an aisle at some time or another and publicly confessed (Matthew 10:32, Romans 10:10) before a congregation that we have recognized our sinfulness (Romans 3:23) and have come to God through Jesus Christ (John 14:6), His son, repenting of our sins and promising to live as He laid out in His word (1 John 4:17). That is simplified, to be sure, but it is factual and truthful.
In most congregations, we have followed His example in Baptism, signifying the death, burial and resurrection. Without His resurrection, our faith is in vain, according to His word (1 Corinthians 14:14). We partake of the Lord’s Supper in remembrance of Him (1 Corinthians 11:25).
Except for that first walk down the aisle, those are the easy ones. Let’s go see how we are doing elsewhere. How about that first commandment (Exodus 20:3, Deuteronomy 6:5, Matthew 22:37)? How are we doing there? Heart? Mind? Soul? Do we even recognize we have all three and utilize them as designed? Do we follow the next two verses in Deuteronomy?
And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. [Deuteronomy 6:6-7 KJV]
How about the second segment (Exodus 20:12-17, Matthew 22:39)? Do we know our neighbors, much less love them? Which of the following statements applies to us?
And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. [Matthew 25:40 KJV]
Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. [Matthew 25:45 KJV] (emphasis mine)
What letter would Paul write back to us, should he come and see?