|Volume 24 Number 11 November 2022
What God Wants From His Church
We often spend a lot of time talking about the identifying marks of the church – rightfully so. We need to continue to preach and to teach about the singular nature of the church (Ephesians 1:22-23; 4:4). We also need to teach our friends and our neighbors about how one is scripturally added to the church that belongs to Jesus Christ (Acts 2:36-41, 47). Likewise, we should be sure to emphasize the way the New Testament church worships and her opposition to denominationalism (John 4:24; 17:20-21). However, after we have searched the Scriptures and learned how to properly identify the church and to become members of it, we should see what God expects from those of us who are members of the church.
God wants His church to be faithful in all things. Jesus promised persecution to His followers, but He also promised a reward for those who endure until the end (Matthew 10:22). God is faithful to us and has fulfilled all of His promises. This should motivate us to respond in faithfulness to Him (1 Corinthians 10:13). It is easy to begin going in the right direction, but faithfulness means that we continue to go in the right direction until the end. The churches in the first century were told to be faithful even in the face of death, and they would receive a crown of life (Revelation 2:10). If we are faithful, we can expect to receive the same (2 Timothy 4:8).
Faithfulness involves doing the things that God desires and doing them in the way God desires them to be done. We need to be faithful to preaching the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:26-27). God expects us to cover all of the things that are in His Word as best we can. This will challenge us at times because we are occasionally tempted to gravitate toward certain topics repeatedly. Still, faithfulness means that we need to let God’s Word set the agenda for our preaching and our teaching (1 Peter 4:11). God desires that we be faithful in our commitment to Him. When we obeyed the Gospel, we pledged our loyalty to God, and we must hold to what we professed (Hebrews 10:22-23). Instead of being lukewarm and inconsistent, each of us must examine our lives to be sure that we are not defaulting on our end of the deal. God knows that we will not be faultless, but we can be faithful (1 Corinthians 15:58).
God desires that His church enjoys fellowship. The primary fellowship that we enjoy is with the Godhead in Heaven (1 Corinthians 1:9; 1 John 1:3). As we have been baptized into a relationship with the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, our fellowship is Heaven-centered (Matthew 28:19). God desires fellowship with His creation. This is why He sent Jesus to the earth to die for our sins. The process of reconciliation began as Jesus died and rose again. As we receive the grace of God and demonstrate obedient faith, we are reconciled to God (i.e., made friends again, 2 Corinthians 5:19-21). We are to worship, love and serve God in order to deepen the fellowship that we have with Him. We are even to suffer on behalf of Christ so that we can experience what Paul calls “the fellowship of his sufferings” (Philippians 3:10; 1:29 NKJV). We cannot have fellowship with God while walking in darkness, and therefore, holiness is essential (Ephesians 5:11; 1 John 1:5-6). Fellowship with the eternal God is not something we should take lightly. We should not take for granted the idea that God desires to have a close and intimate relationship with us as His people. Jesus Christ was willing to die to make that happen (Matthew 26:28).
Moreover, God desires that His church enjoy fellowship with each other. Fellowship is having things in common with one another and enjoying a rich relationship with each other based on the things shared in common. The early church began with fellowship (Acts 2:42). As we walk in the light, we have fellowship with each other (1 John 1:7). Our relationship with fellow brothers and sisters in Christ should be among our richest relationships in all of the world. God desires that we spend time together, support each other and sacrifice for one another. A part of fellowship as Christians means that we bear each other’s burdens (Galatians 6:2). It has never been God’s desire that church interactions resemble a business interaction where we exchange goods and go our separate ways. Fellowship is costly, but it is necessary. God wants us to weep together and to laugh together (Romans 12:15). God wants His people to have fellowship with Him and with each other.
Jesus prayed for unity to exist among His followers as He was about to go to the cross (John 17:20-21). We often speak of unity in the church when correcting misconceptions held by our denominational friends, but we need to take heed ourselves. Paul told the Corinthians that they needed to be unified rather than divided. Furthermore, He begged the Ephesians to ‘endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit’ (Ephesians 4:3). While there is certainly a time to withdraw and to practice church discipline, we need to be sure that we do not revel in those times (2 Thessalonians 3:6, 14). It seems that some among us are always willing and ready to divide or to cause problems among the people of God. Paul said that those who develop the habit of sowing discord must be dealt with (Romans 16:17-18; Titus 3:10-11). Unity matters to God. We should do all within our power to preserve it. Let us see the best in others and speak well of brethren. Let us be those who love the brotherhood and rejoice when the Gospel is preached (Philippians 1:15-18; 1 Peter 2:17). God desires for us to do more than just have the same name on the front of our buildings. We need to actually be united.
As we think about the church, let us always remember what God has done to establish it. Let us remember that as members, however, we have a responsibility to God. The church displays God’s multifaceted wisdom in the heavenly places (Ephesians 3:9-11). God always delivers what He promises. Let us give to Him the things He desires from us!