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What message does your LIFE preach about the Church?

June 3, 2009

My prime motive for this blog is always two-fold:

  1. let the biblical Gospel inform everything I think, say, and do and therefore
  2. let the biblical Gospel transform my mind, heart, and will.

If the Gospel informs my life then it will by necessity transform my life. You see the Gospel is not just the “good news” that is only needed at the moment of conversion or salvation.  But it is the ongoing “good news” that we need for every moment of our sanctification. In other words, we need the Gospel now just as much, if not more, than we needed it when we first heard it.

It is with these personal assumptions that I write every post on this blog.

All of life preaches a message (If you don’t like the word preach then substitute speaks or translates).  Let’s face it, whether we like it or can help it, our life (words and actions) preach a message about something to somebody. It’s not a question of if we have an influence on people around us but when we do and what impact that influence is making.

This brings me then to my topic today: “What message does your LIFE preach about the Church?”

I was deeply convicted of this sometime last week. I was getting up one Saturday morning and, as typically occurs, my mind was evaluating and pondering my life. I was considering my roles as man, son, brother, friend, co-worker, and more importantly child of God, husband and father. All of a sudden it occurred to me, “Jonathan, how does your life play a role in your family’s view of the church of Jesus Christ (the local church specifically)?” I found myself arrested by this question, especially because I knew it came from God Himself, from His Spirit.

Now that I have taken on role of daddy for the last 15 months, my responsibilities have become bigger and more awesome than ever before. One of those God-given responsibilities is to shepherd my wife and my daugther. To spiritually care for my family.  For whatever reason, God led me first and foremost to how I was shepherding my family in the area of serving and interacting in our local church.

These questions came to my mind in a whirlwind of urgency:

  • What is my definition of the church? What is my understanding of the church?
  • How important, in my view, did I see the role of the church? How important did I see my role in the church?
  • Is my view/belief of the church biblical? Am I honestly sure it really is biblical? Am I seeking to know more intimately and accurately God’s view of the church?
  • What is my wife’s view of the church? What is her view of her role in the church? Does she see it as significant? Does she see it as necessary?
  • What is my daughter’s view of the church? (even at 15 months she is observing much)
  • What are my words about the church preaching to my family? What are my actions in and among the church preaching to my family? Do my words and actions line up?

All of these questions came flooding to my mind. They were piercing me because I knew deep down that I was not only in need of much fine tuning but even repentance and rediscovery. Repentance for my sins of omitting out truth and grace about the church. Rediscovery to seek out God’s view of the church and my role in it.

However repentance and rediscovery only take me half way. The other half is being renewed and revived by this rediscovery, reiterating it to myself, and then reproducing it to people in my life.

So again, here is what I realize I need when it comes to the message my life preaches about the church (in 5 R’s to make it easy):

  1. Repentance – changing my heart about how I used to live
  2. Rediscovery – searching out and finding the truth
  3. Renewal and Revival – being changed and affected by this truth
  4. Reiteration – preaching this to myself over and over again
  5. Reproduction – taking what I’ve found and been affected by and living it to others so the same can happen to them

Ultimately, my wife will get her most influential view of the church from me, her husband. I say this not out of pride but from what I have observed as truth. Sure she has the right to her own opinion and the freedom to form it. But what she hears from me and sees in me will ultimately inform and supercede her belief about the church. The same applies to my daughter and even my friends, my co-workers, my boss, my extended family, etc. It’s amazing and scary the influence we can have on the sphere of people in our lives. Some of those people we only encounter one time. This makes every moment of our lives significant and crucial in spreading God’s kingdom.

So I challenge you reader.  Because this question, “What message does your LIFE preach about the church?”, is not exclusive to husbands, fathers, or even men. But to every Christian out there, regardless of your background or belief.

What message are you sending? What is it exactly that you are preaching with your life? When others see your life, and believe it they are watching and taking mental notes, what are they hearing and seeing about the church? Grant it, I know that people will always misconstrue, misconceive, and misinterpret truth into their own reality. But overall, what does your life show?

Does it show you hate the church? Be honest. You can say all day long, “no no no, I would never hate the church. I love the church”. Yes I’m sure your professed love is as strong as anyone out there. The questions is what do your actions show? Actions always supercede words. Does your life show you have a small view of the church? Do you think it’s not that important? Does it show you have a selfish view? Does your view of the church only involve building up your own reputation, needs, desires, and interests? Or are you more others oriented? Is your view of the church man-centered or God-centered? Be honest.

I leave you with these points to self-examination:

What message does your life preach about the church to…

  • God – He is the supreme judge and observer of all things. So what would God say about your view and lifestyle message of His church? Is He honored or dishonored by your life? Is He exalted or debased by your view of the church? Would He receive all of the glory for your life’s message on the church or none at all?
  • Self – believe it or not the most subtle problem is what message our life preaches to yourself? Are you deceiving yourself into believing something that simply isn’t true about the church? Are you being honest with yourself or confusing yourself for your own convenience and freedom to do what you want and believe what you’re comfortable with?
  • Family – the people who are influenced the most by your life; the people who are the most intimately connected by your life, immediate or extended. What message does your life preach to your father? Mother? Siblings? Spouse? Children? Cousins? Grandparents? Is your family left to think of the church as a Sunday social club, a cool life support group, a needs-based group, a psychiatrist’s couch, a hospital, a lifespring of truth and grace, or something else?
  • Co-Workers – (the reason I place this group before church is because we spend the majority of our day and lives with those we work with) What would you co-workers, Christian and non-Christian, say you believe and feel about the church? Would they view it as genuine or made-up? Legalistic or balanced in Christ?
  • Friends –  (the reason I place this group before the church is because, sadly, friends know our real self better than anyone else, even the church) it is often said that our friends know more truth about us than our family or co-workers ever will. According to your friends, how intimate is your belief about the church? They probably know you the best, the real you.
  • Church – your brothers and sisters in Christ. What would your pastor and your church family say about your passion for the church? Is it genuine or fabricated? Is it daily or Sunday only? Is it rooted in Christ Jesus or self? Is it really biblical or professed as biblical to continue appearing spiritual and disciplined?
  • the world and unbelievers – last but not least, what does the world see and hear from your life? First of all, does what you say about the church line up with how you act about the church? If it does not then the world is receiving a double message, a contradictory truth. Now they are confused. Actually, now it’s crystal clear to them, something isn’t right. You say one thing but do another. Now your life on the church is simple hypocrisy and falsehood.

The awesome and scary privilege we have is displaying the worth and value of Jesus Christ to the world. The primary way we do this is by being the church! The primary way they see this worth and value is by seeing the church be who it is! If we are misrepresenting who God designed us to be then the church is left with a powerless and dishonest view of God’s bride.

Yes God is Sovereign and is sanctifying and purifying His bride to be holy and blameless. However He is also doing this through our obedience by His Spirit and our enjoyment of His Son.

I conclude with Paul’s exhortation to pastor Timothy in his first letter to him:

“Keep a close watch
on yourself and on the teaching.
Persist in this,
for by so doing you will save
both yourself and your hearers.”
1 Timothy 4:16

Together let’s actively pursue a close watch on our lives and our doctrine. Seek out others and ask them to tell you what they see. Pray to God to reveal your heart in these matters. Draw others in to evaluate you.

You will not regret it.

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