What I Owe The Church

 

We derive great benefit from being members of the Lord’s church.  Surely we all appreciate our redemption from sin by the blood of Christ (Acts 20:28), the status that we now enjoy as children of God (2 Corinthians 6:16-18) and the numerous spiritual blessings that  we enjoy in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 1:3).  The song “Count Your Many Blessings” emphasizes that as Christians, we are truly blessed beyond comprehension.

But with these blessings also comes responsibility.  We enjoy our blessings; we must not seek to evade our responsibilities. Jesus likened his relationship to each member of the church like that of a vine and a branch.  He said in John 15:5, “I am the vine, ye are the branches.”  Just as the branch draws its life from the vine, so we draw our spiritual life from our Lord.  But again, that brings upon us responsibilities – “Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples” (John 15:8).  Consider some things that we all owe to the Lord’s church.

Faithfulness.  As long as the local congregation is faithful to the Lord and His Word in its activities it deserves our assistance in carrying out that work.  The word Faithful is synonymous with such principles as fidelity, loyalty, devotion, dependability and constancy.  The local church depends upon its members to be able to carry on its work.  If we are not faithful, then those programs will fail.  We cannot afford to begin the work only to quit if it becomes arduous or tiresome.  Remember Jesus’ words, “No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62).  If we are to derive the benefits of membership in the church, we must be faithful.

Our Presence.  Christianity involves more than our assembling together for Bible class and worship, but these are certainly an integral part of our Christian life.  We all need the lessons from the Bible, the fellowship and the closeness to God that is to be had when we join our hearts together in such assemblies.  Beyond this, we have certain responsibilities to encourage, to uplift and to admonish our fellow Christians that must be fulfilled in worship.
If I have the right to absent myself from Bible classes and worship services, then every other Christian has that same right.  But if everyone did so, we would have no Bible classes and worship services.  I doubt that any Christian would be in favor of canceling all services, but every time we deliberately miss a service, it is as if we are voting to discontinue that service.  Attendance at worship services and Bible classes is more than a privilege, it is also a duty.

Financial Support.  The church is obligated to teach the gospel and to try and reach the lost.  But since the church is made up of individual Christians, every member of the church sustains that responsibility.  Reaching the lost and teaching the gospel requires money; it is impossible to accomplish this task without financial means.  It is true that the church has this responsibility on a world-wide scale, but  we are especially responsible for the support of our local congregation.  Whenever the church makes plans, our financial support is counted on in order to accomplish those plans.

At times we may be away from home on vacation or we may miss services due to sickness or work.  The work of the church goes on and the need for financial support is not lessened.  At such times we need to remember to make our contribution.  If I can excuse myself from giving as God has prospered and as he expects, then every other Christian can do the same.  Whenever a child of God fails to give as God has directed, it is a vote to close the doors and to stop the work of the church.

We derive great benefit from being a Christian but we must also be willing to shoulder the responsibilities that come our way as citizens of God’s kingdom.  Are you fulfilling your responsibilities in the Lord’s church at Union?

Thomas W. Larkin