Summary: Using our spiritual gifts and encouraging one another will help build the church.

Building Up One Another

Ephesians 4:1-8; 11-16

October 28, 2007

For the past few weeks I have been discussing with you an important aspect of the church. We have all been gifted by God to use the spiritual gifts He has given to us. When we are faithful to God, we are also fruitful. Because if we are to be the church, we must know what our gifts are and how to use them. This week I want to conclude, by discussing what it means to be the church, that our purpose is to glorify God and build up one another.

I received an article from Bill Hybels, pastor of Willow Creek Church, and this was his message:

“Think what a local church would be like if its people were RADICALLY DEVOTED to Christ, IRREVOCABLY COMMITTED to each other, & RELENTLESSLY DEDICATED to reaching those outside of God’s family with the Gospel of Christ. IT WOULD BE A CHURCH AGAINST WHICH THE GATES OF HELL COULD NOT PREVAIL!!”

What is Hybels saying? What’s his point? Well, for the next few minutes, I want to break down Hybels 3 points for a few minutes. He is asking a huge WHAT IF question . . . WHAT IF the people of the church were so RADICALLY DEVOTED to Christ? What would happen, what would the church and our community look like?

First of all, let me tell you, we really don’t like to be called a RADICAL. Think about it, we hear of radical ideas and radical changes and plain old radicals. A radical is someone who is ~

a revolutionary,

a nonconformist,

a nontraditionalist.

They are viewed as extremists and always seem to be in the thick of controversy.

And you know who I’m describing? Jesus!!

Those words accurately describe the first century Jesus. Jesus was a radical. He did what was totally unexpected. He touched the sick, talked to adulterers, ate with sinners. He did nothing that was traditional and normal.

And Jesus has called those who believe in Him to live the same way He did, as a radical. How easy it is to love your enemies? It’s not. Yet, this is one of the many ways Jesus calls us to interact with one another and the world. We are to be devoted to Jesus, that’s it. This is what makes being a Christian so difficult, and so rewarding all at the same time. We are called to this radical, nonconforming style of devotion to Jesus. As Paul said in Romans 12:2, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world.”

It’s not easy to be a nonconformist. Paul’s words in today’s scripture remind us we are to be “completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”

Think about the world we live in and how many people demonstrate humility, gentleness, are patient, bear with one another in love, AND make every effort, that is every effort to keep the unity . . . how? Because they seek to keep the peace.

Remember, Hybels calls us to be RADICALLY DEVOTED to who?!?!?! To Christ!!! He is always our focus. You see, when Jesus is not our focus, that’s when the world around us looks at us like we’re a bunch of mean spirited, rule toting, hypocritical religious zealots. Yet, when Jesus is the focus, the world and the media will be forced, in a good way, to take notice.

Next, Hybels tells us to be IRREVOCABLY COMMITTED to ONE ANOTHER!!

That means we don’t waver on our commitment to one another. We don’t run away when someone in the church goes through a difficult season of life and turn our backs, we stay with that person and help them.

I recently read of a family who lost their home due to a fire, they had no insurance and needed food, clothes, blankets, money; basically they needed everything. Who were the first ones to respond to their need? Their church, they delivered cases of food, clothes, blankets and cash within 12 hours of the fire. And it was the people of the church who helped rebuild their home.

A woman with no transportation and no family needed to travel 30 miles per day to receive radiation treatments, it was her church’s women’s group who organized a pool of volunteers to provide rides.

I can go on and tell you story after story about churches who have helped their members; rich and poor; active and inactive. The point of Paul’s message to us is that we are supposed to be those people. When we know there is a need, we cannot stand by and expect someone else to do the work. We MUST take the initiative. Christ commands us to do so, otherwise we are no better than the Pharisees and legalists of his day.

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