I went to pick up a young teenager to take him to church as I usually did one Sunday and his visiting half-brother wanted to go with us, so I drove both of the boys to church that day which happened to be Halloween, but one of them was wearing a fedora that was part of his Halloween costume. The boys got into a group of other church kids around their age and the whole group started to pass the hat around the circle.
Those that have been in the church for a while know the scene all too well: The head of the building committee gives the announcement on stage that the plans for the renovation are complete and it will only cost a few million dollars. The congregational heartstrings are pulled and the people are asked to fill out a pledge card.
As we live our life in awareness that we are here to spread the Gospel (Romans 10:14-15), we need to remember that faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1).
Turning on the television to find sound Christian doctrine is like looking for a needle in a haystack. A little bit of what is out there will be good, but you will sift through a lot of hay and stubble that will be consumed at the end of the times. Jesus was angered by the thievery among the Pharisees as he says the second Woe recorded in Matthew:
When Jesus speaks, people ought to listen, and when He speaks against the leaders of His day, we should all evaluate ourselves to see if His message applies to us. The point must be made clear that we should not follow leaders without evaluation, but their lives and lessons should be compared to that of the Scriptures as our ultimate guide. Once we determine our leaders have a general tendency to follow the Word we can lighten up our scrutiny some, but we must always compare what we see in the world to what God has said in the Word.
Christians are repeatedly encouraged to fellowship with one another. The call to fellowship is the most common admonitions that we hear regarding church life and function, but it is rarely defined. We are left to assume that fellowship means to merely spend time with other Christians. This means going out to lunch after a Sunday service or watching movies together. However, I want to challenge that loosely defined premonition and set out to define what fellowship actually means.