From the Outside Looking In

This morning, I looked out the window to admire our new baby chicks for a few minutes when I saw something that caused a double take! One of the chicks was out, but no one had opened the gate to let her out! It followed the other chick and Mama Hen from the outside perimeter as they moved about inside the pen. It was chirping in desperation & as a call for attention. It ran around with pseudo-direction, but limited contact with the other hens.

When someone calls them self a Christian, but insists on being separated from a church and/or the global Church for whatever reason, they are like this escaped baby chick. When Jesus Christ established the Church, and the New Testament Church continued, parameters were given. Paul gives lots of instructions in his New Testament letters to churches, communities of Christ followers. The Church matters.

“Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.” [Ephesians 4:15-16]

Whenever there is conflict at church, it is tempting to respond like we would anywhere else- ‘I choose to be here, so I will choose to leave’. This may be necessary in certain situations, but this is America! Go down the road and get plugged in and connected to another church community with faithfulness! Take leaving more seriously than changing potato chip brands- this is a family change.

“Love the LORD, all you godly ones! For the LORD protects those who are loyal to him, but he harshly punishes the arrogant. So be strong and courageous, all you who put your hope in the LORD!” [Psalms 31:23-24]

Do not allow some dispute or frustration or your own pride to keep from the mystical experience of worship and fellowship together. It is not worth it. Worshipping in a community is better than no community. We are made for togetherness.

If this chick stayed out too much longer, it would die. An animal would come on the hunt. The chick would starve. It might get lost without Mother Hen’s guidance.

With all the fuzzy wuzzy talk of church family, we sometimes forget that the mob and gangs call themselves a family. The church must be a different kind of family- humility, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, self-control must be present. The Holy Spirit must reign- not a pastor or committee or deacon. If any of these people try to have authority without the Holy Spirit’s presence, everyone can pack up, go home, and stop kidding themselves that they are at church to worship God. They are really there for a social club or to worship a person.

“Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven, conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ. Then, whether I come and see you again or only hear about you, I will know that you are standing together with one spirit and one purpose, fighting together for the faith, which is the Good News.” [Philippians 1:27]

How did the chick get out of the pen? We realized there was a hole under the doorway just large enough for it to crawl out from. If you find a hole in your church that may tempt you or someone else to leave, get to the bottom of it. Work with others to close the hole and communicate with your pastor and/or staff your concern. Perhaps they had not seen the hole. If you find yourself on the outside looking in with your church, change something. Jesus calls you to an earthly home- The Church.

“Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.” [Ephesians 4:11-13]

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