As the deer pants for the water brooks, So my soul pants for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God; When shall I come and appear before God? (Psalm 42:1-2)
It is no secret that I dwell on the topic of professing Christians not reading the Bible, but why is it that we do not read it as we should?
When we think of a desert, we think of hot sun, dry weather, and no water; the vary place that you probably do not want to live in for the long term. God sent the Israelites into the desert wilderness to test their strength. Would they complain about the lack of water? Yep. How about the lack of food? Yep. God was patient and loving, teaching the people to follow Him. In reality, it was more about the people learning about themselves. The desert is a great place to learn about yourself and I found that God used a desert to teach me about myself.
We have no doubt heard the phrase, "I am not my brother's keeper" usually uttered in annoyance in reference to how we may have let a church member or a friend falls into sin. The first time that phrase was ever uttered was in another context. After Cain kills Abel, the Lord asks where his brother is at and Cain responds, "I do not know. Am I my brother's keeper? (Genesis 4:9)"
The purpose of the church seems to have been co-opted by modern movements and philosophies that have perverted the role of the pastor, the congregation, and they interact with the world. It is not uncommon to find that churches that are so focused on bringing people into the congregation that the dedicated members are left alone. Churches compete for memberships and covet numbers of the mega-churches. Membership building is not the intended model or focus for the church.
As we discuss what the purpose of the church is, we have looked at the role of leadership, being to equip the members to preach the Gospel in their life, and then we looked at how we as believers need to interact with one another. Next we want to consider what we are a congregation should do for the world around us. The first level of needs that should be met in a congregation is its own needs. Just like in family life, the first obligation of anyone should be to take care of his own family (1 Timothy 5:8). Once our family is taken care of we can help to support the needs of the church, that is helping to support the needs of those who have them within the congregation. This does not include those that have needs because they do not work to meet their own obligations.
Last week I discussed the first purpose of the church being to equip the believers for the ministry of the Gospel. The church leaders should be teaching the congregation a sound Gospel from the Scriptures, neither focusing on attracting large attendance numbers nor on modern marketing campaigns. While the leaders focus on teaching and clarifying the Scriptures, the church members should be supporting one another in their walk with the Lord.