This past week we shared the annual theme for Mokena Baptist Church. As Pastor, I have chosen the theme "Live to Give" as a way to remind, challenge, and inspire our church family that the fullest and most satisfying life that can be lived is found in service to others.
The Sunday morning message focused on the agency God has chosen as the instrument of giving to this world, the local, new testament church. In the message, I discussed several key items about the church.
1. The Value of the Church
Everything is important these days. Politics, sports, success, money, happiness, fitness, education, career, and even entertainment seem to be things people cannot live without. In our pursuit of exalting everything from the of "nice to have" to a place of "must have" we have squeezed God out of the equation. Where once, for the majority of families, Sunday morning church was a non-negotiable part of their weekly schedule it has now taken a back seat to all the new demands this world places on us. The church is valuable! Not because I, as a pastor say it's valuable but because the eternal word of God and the shed blood of Jesus Christ clearly stated it's value for all to read.
2. The Violence Against the Church
The Bible warns the church in Ephesus that there would be attacks from without and within as people try to tear the church apart. The church of Ephesus is long gone but the attacks sure haven't slowed down! Whether it's the petty arguments, doctrinal error, or blatant apostasy of so many fighting under the banner of "Christian" the church is seeing an assault that few could ever imagine. Churches feel as though they must become like the world to reach the world and in so doing lose their potency and abandon their God-given purpose. We are commanded to carry the light into the darkness, not darken the light to not hurt their feelings. How are we possibly suppose to survive this sinful world if not for the mercy and protection of God
3. The Victory of the Church
Mokena Baptist Church can make it! The promise is as secure as salvation found in Jesus Christ. The church's singular responsibility is to stay reliant on God for everything we do. Anything less constitutes a diminished version of what we are called to be. We refuse to claim victory based on numerical growth or financial prosperity. The only measuring stick allowed in the true church is the likeness to Christ. If that is what we are striving for then the church will remain in a perpetual state of victory no matter what comes our way.