The 21st Century Retooling of the Church – Part XXXX
How are we, the church, to invest in ourselves to be more effective, more Christ-like, more mature in the faith, and more productive?
Before many a church offering I have heard the cry to give as “an investment into the kingdom of God”. I never have taken the time to ask, “What really am I investing in? What is this kingdom of God?” Most of what I give goes to the local church, so is the local church the kingdom of God, or is there more? Is my ‘investment’ paying good dividends? What am I getting for my ‘investment’ dollar?” the secular investor would ask. The religious sector asks, “What fruit is being produced?”
Maybe we, the Church, need to study all the “kingdom of God” parables again! No, maybe we should allow the Holy Spirit to teach us the ‘kingdom of God” principles that are hidden in the parables, then “act” on those principles. The “Good Samaritan” actually invested in the kingdom of God! How? Through “service”, physically and financially, yet he never gave “through a church”! Jesus invested in the Woman at the Well, another Samaritan, and it did not cost him financially anything. The results, a revival in her town! Jesus “invested” in the twelve, teaching them how to serve, which they did and changed the world. We, the Church, must examine what we are “investing in” and the results of that “investment”.
Ephesians 4 states that we need to “invest” in the saints; we are to equip, prepare, nurture, and care for them for the purpose of “service”, for the purpose of their “maturity in Christ”, and for the purpose of bringing unity to the Body of Christ. That is quite an investment producing phenomenal dividends! How can this be done? Only through the “kingdom principle” of laying things down and dying can we see resurrection and life. I John 3:16 states that we are to “lay down our lives for our brethren.” Laying down, dying to self, for the sake of the Brethren that we are ‘investing” in, is the only way the Church will see a resurrection, a revival. This is central to the “kingdom of God” principles. This is the key to what we invest, how we invest, and the dividends we expect to see from our investment.
But this seems impossible with a church known for divisions, for fighting one another in the name of “defending the faith, the truth, and the Bible,” for stoning the brethren not in their camp, still being one of the most segregated institutions in our society. If not in our camp, we would rather tear each other down than build each other up, strip one another of their dignity instead of praising and encouraging one another, raising the other brother above themselves instead of raising oneself above their brethren. But with Jesus “all things are possible”, especially if the Holy Spirit is orchestrating it! We, the Church, have to allow the Holy Spirit to teach us how to “equip”, to “prepare”, to “build up, encourage”, to “nurture” each other toward Christ-likeness individually and corporately. Only through the leading of the Holy Spirit and the laying down of our lives can we even begin to see how Ephesians 4 can work in practicality.
Again I ask, “Can we trust the Holy Spirit” to lead us?” But I also ask, “Can I trust my fellow brethren in the faith?” To the latter, only if I am willing to lay down my life for my brethren, and my brother is willing to lay down his life for me. To the former, only if I am willing to trust the “Spirit of Jesus Christ” to “teach me all things” pertaining to the kingdom of God. That takes a lot of “trusting” and a lot of “dieing”!