The Call for the Church from EPHESIANS PII

His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms,

Peace is the positive hope of Christ clearly taught and given to others in loving and caring ways.

The church is to be the beacon of light first before she can take a stand.

A “stand” born out of chaos and division is a foolish endeavor, because the credibility will not be there nor will the true purpose of the church be communicated correctly. The church is the result of reuniting; thus, our teaching and determination proclaim the reconciliation we received to those who have not received it, and in turn remind us of our gift. In Christ we are united; do we set that example and show it both publicly and to one another? Just as the Jew was united with the Gentile, we are to come together with one another for our Lord’s purpose and to excel in His call.

We are to learn and to grow in our relationships and knowledge of our Lord. The wisdom of God is to be made known.

We cannot do that if we are so busy fighting with one another. We must realize that God will not allow His message to be thwarted by our pettiness. We cannot be hostile to our Lord as the Demons or the unsaved are. We must be set apart to be a peculiar people and a mirror to His majesty. The love of our God is to be known and expressed by His followers and made known to others.

Our weakness and feebleness will not get in the way of our Lord’s final purpose and will. So, we need to take comfort in His purpose and holiness, confident that He will guide and lead; we need only respond. Yes, we will make mistakes (and God knows I have made a boat full over the years), but our comfort is that it all does work to His glory. The point I need to make is this: we can do better, and His plan is better than ours. Character is the outgrowth of our struggles and obedience that will be used to further His Kingdom. We do this as a united body, rich in our Lord and committed to His cause. We model this with integrity, honesty, and care, with love as our drive, pointing to hope in His name. Our weakness becomes our strength because of His work in us.

Christ is our head, and when we do not get this essential fact, we will spill our “disease of disgust” instead of blessings from His presence.

We are to give God the glory in all we do so our triumphs will be His and our failures will also be His; our Lord reboots us and gives us the perseverance to go on with greater character and ability to press toward His goal. When we stop seeking the honor for ourselves, then we can see His glory and the responsibility of the church. Our Lord created the universe and governs it. Thus, He governs us too. Our acceptance of Him and practice of His will puts into place the healthy church, which has been given to us to be its managers and responsible caregivers.

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The essential way to grow a church is to be faithful with our Fruit!

Remember: Christ did not give up on us when things went from bad to worse with our sin. His grace, forgiveness, and perseverance came to us anyway!

A Fruitless Church is a Big Problem!

One of the main problems I have seen in the churches I have served and consulted for or have researched is the lack of Fruit from its leaders and members. We have to see this as a travesty before our Holy God. It can come from the over-focus on the personality of a leader who is prideful or a preoccupation with a trend, giving no regard to the percepts of the Word, or the basic lack of kindness when you visit such a church. Some churches are good at one or two of the Fruits of the Holy Spirit to the exclusion of the rest of the Fruits. Maybe you will see big smiles from the pastor who is a good teacher, but sometimes impatient and cold—perhaps even smug. This can be from focusing on the Gifts of the Spirit while ignoring His call and Fruit of the Spirit. We have church leaders and pastors concerned about being deliberate and intentional, thinking that “my church is exclusively my ministry; this is all about me.” They are all about building a legacy to themselves and how they want to build their church to and for themselves, something which they rationalize away using statistics, pop psychology, and business trends while ignoring the Word.

How many people, in an average, good church, practice the Fruit of the Spirit in that church? Well, we do not know yet. The initial research is all over the map from a mere twenty percent 20% to a quantity of eighty percent (80%) of church leaders who deem themselves fruitful. In the mean time, those under their leadership show a small deviation; a measly eighteen percent (18%) to an over seventy percent (70%) see their leaders as bearers of fruit. How many practice it at home? How many practice it at work? This is the research we are seeking. When we know what we are doing with our faith and fruit and see what Christ calls us to do, perhaps we can improve our church’s workplaces and our homes!

It seems, from our initial research (our partner the Schaeffer Institute) and experiences, that most Christians respond to their faith with a rear end firmly planted in a pew that goes nowhere near fruitful service or glory to Christ. They hold on to a will that does not allow conviction or change to their routine or life. Thus, church is just a club for comfort and not a “huddle” to strategize and put forward how to play the game of Christian life after receiving our orders from the Coach. We need to know that Christ calls us to change our minds like we change the oil in the car. Look what Romans twelve tells us to do: “devote themselves to him; and avoiding conformity to the world.” In other words, we are to be changed, fruitful people so we can be change agents to others. Not to be infected by the world, but to help it along toward His purpose. We cannot do that when we are poured out to our will and desires only and not to our Lord. Oh, that we can be: “…conformed to his holy will”… “to think humbly”… “to exercise faithfully”… to mutual love, diligence, patience, hope, prayer, hospitality, compassion, and condescension …. “and becoming conduct towards all men”! Our devotion to Christ must be rooted in the mind and then let the Fruit translate it to the feet and the rest of our bodies in between—the body of us as human beings and a body of believers in relation to all those around us, which is our duty (Rom. 12:9-13).

The Essential Role of Fruit in the Church

Does your church have love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control pouring from its leaders and most of its people, on your campus and into the streets where its people are? If not, something is terribly wrong!

Christianity is not just the proclamation of the Gospel; it is also the example of the Gospel!

This begs for a question: why do so many Christians see their faith as “on hold” until when it may be needed, and/or are doing nothing or just what they can get away with?

Is the Fruit of the Spirit in you and in your Church?

How many of us have ever ventured into a church that was filled with unkindness, where we were ignored or even mistreated and where the church seemed more like a thorn bush than a fruitful vine…a church filled with a bad atmosphere from the bad spiritual breaths of its people making smog instead of the sweet fragrance of God’s presence and love?

As a pastor, I have a tough battle to make sure my flock behaves so that Christ would be pleased. And of course, I need to set the tone. I can try my best to set an example so I am not a thorn bush, and I can teach; but I cannot make them behave! I can model, teach, disciple, urge, and pray. But, real, authentic Christian love comes solely from a real, authentic Christian formation. This is caused from the Fruit of the Spirit growing in each of us. If someone is not growing in the Lord, he/she is not willing or able to treat others with love and respect, nor is he/she able to model and do and be as Christ exemplified and taught. Care, compassion, and a real affection for others will be moot, love will be stifled, and kindness absent; and no matter how good the campus, teaching, or mission are, all that will be noticed is an annoying noise. The church will be an irritating and frustrating club of stubborn prideful people, devoid of harmony and brotherly love—devoid of Christ! Do we really want that? If not, what are you willing to do about it?

No one wants to come to a club where the people are angry, bitter, immoral, impure, corrupt, into idolatry and witchcraft, and full of hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy, drunkenness…and so forth!

These are the key words Paul talked about in Romans, chapter one. It is the same with a local church; who wants strife when care and friendship are called for and needed? People will come to a place where there is love and joy, where they are treated with kindness, cared for, allowed to work on themselves while being shown patience and the composure of Christ from the leaders. We need to know that we display Christ by our attitudes and actions. If we do not do this right from what Jesus modeled and taught, we will get our churches all skewed upside down and wrong. We will be the church of the thorn-bush, a fruit-stand devoid of fruit, a place of dysfunction instead of a church of Jesus Christ and His transforming power!