Summary: In order for the church to function as it was designed, each of us must be committed to care for one another. We’re in this together so we might as well learn to like each other
Care for One Another
Did you make any New Year’s Resolutions this year? If so, how many have you broken? One of the best ways to keep a resolution is to set some low standards. People magazine reported last year about the goals of some members of the Hollywood crowd. Singer Michelle Branch committed herself “to drink more water.” Actress Susan Sarandon just wanted “to try to have more fun.” (www.people.com, January, 2002). Almost anyone can hold to resolutions that don’t require any effort. It’s like the old adage, “If you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time.”
Do you know what the five most popular resolutions are?
5. Take up a new hobby.
4. Make more money.
3. Improve relationships.
2. Stop smoking.
1. Lose weight and exercise.
As we inaugurate a new year, some of us are looking to drop a few pounds and get in better shape. I want to suggest this morning, that while this may be important, it’s even more crucial for our church to get involved in some “body building” exercises. We want to make sure that PBC is healthy and so we’re going to “work out” by studying some of the “one another” statements in the New Testament.
If you weren’t here last week, I hope you jump on our web site and listen to Dr. David Wong’s outstanding message on Romans 12. I’m not sure if he’s here this morning but I had just one problem with his message. He mentioned that he was thankful for the opportunity to preach “for one time.” I can assure you that Dr. Wong will have many more opportunities to provide us with a preaching buffet from the Word of God!
David made the point that the most important thing we can do, our most revered resolution, if you will, is to personally surrender our lives to God. Once we surrender to the Savior, we must then flesh out our faith in fellowship with others. As David said, “The life of worship is a life lived in the context of relationships. God saves us individually through personal faith but He doesn’t leave us to live the Christian life alone.” We see that in the very next verses from Romans 12:4-5: “Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.”
In Romans, 1 Corinthians, Ephesians, and Colossians, Paul makes over 30 references to the church by using the analogy of a human body. Just as our bodies need care and attention, so too, the church can only be healthy and experience growth when everything is brought into balance and properly exercised.
Vigorous church growth is always multi-dimensional. We must strive to keep our six purposes as a church in equilibrium with each other in order for the PBC body to remain healthy. In other words, our message must remain biblical and our mission must reflect balance. Our six purpose statements come from Acts 2:42-47. They are summarized by Jesus in the Great Commandment in Matthew 22 and the Great Commission in Matthew 28, and are explained by Paul in Ephesians 4. Here are the six facets of an IMPACT church:
Have you ever noticed how easy it is to get out of balance in your life? The same is true for the church. We must guard against overemphasizing one aspect of ministry at the exclusion of the others. Some unbalanced churches end up stressing only one or two purposes and can easily become unhealthy.
We use this IMPACT statement to guide our preaching diet and leadership decisions so that we don’t ignore any of the biblical mandates. While we must continually focus on all six purposes, it’s also helpful on occasion to isolate one characteristic so that we can understand it in greater depth and experience the advantages of a church-wide emphasis on this one particular aspect. For the next two months, we’re going to give our attention to the “C” of IMPACT: Caring for one another.
I’m reading a very challenging book right now called, Courageous Leadership by Bill Hybels. The picture that he paints of the church is gripping: “There is nothing like the local church when it’s working right. Its beauty is indescribable. Its power is breathtaking. Its potential is unlimited. It comforts the grieving and heals the broken in the context of community. It builds bridges to seekers and offers truth to the confused. It provides resources for those in need and opens its arms to the forgotten, the downtrodden, and the disillusioned…Whatever the capacity for human suffering, the church has a greater capacity for healing and wholeness…the radical message of transforming love has been given to the church” (Pages 21-23).