Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Belonging

This message was preached at Word of Grace church  by Colin D Cruz on the  4 th.of March2012. You can listen to the Audio recording of the message by click here . God’s first purpose for making us is to know him and love him. i.e to worship Him and to bring Him pleasure. Today we will look at the second purpose at why God created us.

Heb 2:10 says “In bringing many sons and daughters to glory
 Eph 1:5 predestined us for adoption to son ship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will. God wants many to share in his glory and so he has adopted us as his children.

All the actions of God in theBible – from cover to cover are about building a people to himself, building a family to himself from all the nationsof the earth. In the Old Testament it was the Jews. In the New Testament the gospel has come to the gentiles – this has come through adoption.

Adoption does not require any qualifications – the child is chosen. Once adopted, there are guidelines of how to live in the family. In a family you have trouble. Children squabble over toys etc. In God’s family, God wants us to learn to show love to one another.

1 Jn 4:7-11  Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

God is love, he died for us. WE should love one another. If you can’t love each other we cannot love God. 1Jn 4:20 -Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.

Loving God is worship
Loving one another is fellowship.

Many people misunderstand the word fellowship to mean just the 10 minutes you share over a cup of coffee or glass of juice after the church service is over. No its more than that. The Bible talks about four levels of fellowship. We will talk about two today: Membership and fellowship.

God created all human begins but not all are his sons. Its only when you get adopted in his family you become his son. The physical family will end. The spiritual family will last forever therefore it is very important. In God’s family, God wants true community.

Bill Hybles says true community takes place when the masks come off, conversation is deep, hearts get vulnerable, lives are shared, accountability is invited, tenderness flows and people really do become brothers and sisters.

It’s being honest about troubles and sharing our joys – becoming vulnerable.
Let’s look at the first one  i.e Membership.

Membership is choosing to belong- it is basic, foundational, elementary. Find a local church body. The word “church” is used 100 times and 95 time it is referring to the local church. Eg) the church in Galatia,  the church in Ephesus etc. Some say “I don’t want to belong because there are problem with that church”.

Spurgeon says  The day we find the perfect church, it becomes imperfect the moment we join it. 

There is no perfect church because it is made up of imperfect people like you and me. But God still wants you to belong to a church. A Christian who does not belong to a local church is like a batsman who does not belong to a team or a bee who does not belong to a beehive, or a hand not being a part of a body. Some say it’s me and God TV. I belong to the universal church. This is not biblical.
 The Bible is full of commands of love one another, bear with each other, forgive one another, pray for one another. You cannot practice that with the tele -evangelist. Its only when we interact with other people that we can practise “one another”

Some Christians are what Bill Hybles calls “bunny believers” they hop from one church to another without putting their roots down. We should be committed to one local body.

Not only that you have a role to play. Somebody is the eye, or leg etc. You will feel fulfilled only when you are a part of the body. When you don’t contribute, the body will lose out. The church set up is not done by angles but by people – they are playing their part.

There are 4 components to Membership
1. Part of belonging is Baptism. This is a sign of belonging. “Healthy families have family pride” Bill Hyble. Members are not ashamed to be recognized as part of the family. Baptism is  biblical  approved means of being recognized. Acts 2:41 “... 3000 were added..” Baptism was a symbol and sign that they belonged. Baptism is not an optional ritual which can be delayed or postponed. It signifies your inclusion in God’s family. It symbolizes fellowship. Its a physical picture of a spiritual truth. Baptism does not make you members but demonstrates that you are a member.
In the New Testament there were no delays in baptisms eg) the Ethiopian Eunuch, the Philippian jailer, in Acts 2. They did not wait. The apostle Paul himself got baptized soon as re recovered his sight.

Being included in God’s family is the highest honour. Baptism is immersion like a tea bag. It’s not sprinkling. Baptism is believer’s baptism. If you have not believed and you get baptised you have only got wet.
The wedding ring , signifies marriage. If a single person wears a wedding band it does not make them married. Infant baptism is not baptism.

2. Attending - Many people take a member ship with a gym but never exercises or works out. It’s the same with the church – people say that they belong but don’t attend.
Heb10:25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Meeting is very important. Therefore we organize different events for diffirent groups of people in the church viz the Life Groups, Men’s prayer, Youth groups, InDepth Training, Marriage seminars, Sunday school etc. There are many opportunities to meet.

Luke 4:16 Jesus went to the synagogue as was his custom. It was a habit. It was not casual. Is coming to church a habit or a rarity? May I encourage you to come on time? We honour our boss , our school by going on time. How much more the King of Kings!

3. Giving – Anand has coined this term “Blessing time is Offering Time”. Giving our offering is a part of belonging.
 Gal 6:6 Nevertheless, the one who receives instruction in the word should share all good things with their instructor.
1Cor9:14 In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel.

Giving out tithes and offerings to the local body is important. God expects you to give. Students, the retired can tithe as well. You will be blessed. Where do you give? It’s where you are fed i.e the local church and not a church “back home”. You do not eat at Pizza hut and pay at Mc Donald’s, do you?

4. Joining the church. We have a membership course where a lot of these things are spelt out more clearly and in detail. There is a difference between being a spectator and a contributor. That is God’s will for you  - to contribute you time , talents, and money to the local church.

II Fellowship – Acts 2:42 – they shared together as they met together. God’s priority for you as a Christian is to meet and share. True friendship develops as you spend time together. They shared their possessions i.e things. All the things we have belong to God  - they are loaned to us when we go to heaven we leave everything behind.

How do you share? Joyce uses her car to take people around to the Life Group. We can share our clothes, things, food etc. WE can also share our experiences, pain , sorrows etc. WE can learn from one another.
Have you heard this before? “Don’t share it till it happens or else there will be bad luck” Don’t give into superstitions. Ask for help – humble yourself.

Share your problems but be discreet  with who and what you share. As the church grows you can’t be friends with everyone. Jesus had 500 disciples of whom 12 were the apostles of whom 3 were close to them and only 1 was closest to him. So there are levels of friendship but we are called to love everyone.
Share your home. Love is spelt TIME. Unless we spend time with people there is no love. Visit someone or invite someone. Invest your life in something that will last forever – the church.

1Jn4:19 2119 We love because he first loved us. 20 Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.

What practical steps can you take to express love?


Colin D Cruz
March 2012