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The task of the church
- Jacob Ninan
For many, sad to say, the church is the place to get married in and buried by. For some others, it is where one can celebrate Christmas, Good Friday and Easter. For the rest of the time, they will 'go to church' if they feel like it, as long as the choir sings well, the pastor doesn't preach too long, and nobody gets too personal.
But the church is supposed to be the Body of Christ, where each member supplies something for the growth of everyone and everyone grows up in maturity to the stature of Christ (Ro.12:5;Ep.4:13). For this to take place, there must be recognition of our place in the Body, and our responsibility towards Christ and the others. Instead of craving for prominent roles in the church and recognition by others, what we can do is what God has strengthened each of us for, beginning with the smallest acts of service.
The majority of the members of the Body need leaders to teach, guide and lead them according to the plans of Christ, the Head (Ep.4:11,12). But many times these leaders are only interested in their name and gain rather than the growth of the members. As a result, many of the members never grow spiritually, and many even fall back into sin. Some members were never even born again when they came to the church, and they remain like that but assuming that everything is all right since they are 'in the church'! Many come to church looking for help with their lives, but they fall away slowly because all they get are platitudes and social pleasantries. God will surely ask such shepherds about the health of the sheep under their care (Ez.34:8).
The apostle Paul not only planted churches, but he also took pains to nurture them. He didn't assume that everyone in the church knew God or would grow automatically. He knew that they had to be fed and nourished by what he gave them. He didn't hesitate to correct them if anyone was going astray (Ac.20:31). Night or day didn't make a difference for him as he strove to build them up in their spiritual life. He gave words of encouragement or sharp rebuke, whichever they needed, bent on telling them the whole wisdom of God (Ac.20:26,27). He was tender with them as a mother (1Th.2:7), but fear of offending them didn't prevent him from correcting them.
Why isn't this happening in the churches of today? Many churches have become entertainment centres with a Christian touch. Many are engaged in programmes that would involve many people and give them a feeling that they are serving God. Many consider that the gospel is to be proclaimed to the 'others' while they themselves are all fine. Problems in the church are ignored or dealt with in a patronising way. Many churches are really serving only the purpose of conducting weddings and funerals.
Who should be waking up? All of God's people. Instead of pointing fingers elsewhere, let us ask God to strengthen us to do what He wants each one of us to do. Don't wait for the big revival. Kindle the small fires.