Summary: Pressing on toward perfecting Grace in Christ
Each day of our Christian lives we are in a race, once we have accepted Christ as our Lord and Savior, we begin the process of growing as followers of Christ towards perfection. Through the commitment of spiritual discipleship we spend time in daily prayer, study the scripture, as well as have fellowship with other believers, so that we grow as Christians in our race for perfection in Christ.
For the early Methodists in America, the fellowship of believers was a very important and integral part of their walk with God. Each “society”, which is what referred to as the church, was made up of a body of believers and seekers. Each member of the society was essentially accountable to the rest of the body. Within the society were other bodies, such as classes, that were smaller more intimate groups within the body of the society. Each smaller group also attested to where that particular body was in their walk with God. The more closely connected to God, the smaller the band.
Could you imagine if church was like that today? Could you imagine a church where people flocked not because it was the “in-style” church, but because it was the church where one could grow closer to God?
Often times, people go to churches where there is a lot of superficial emotion and energy. The places that are more for entertainment than true heart felt Christ-centered worship. People even come to know the Lord at these churches or at spiritual events, however once the emotion has worn off or the revival has moved on, what is left? Many times, they never find support spiritually.
You see without that body of believers, that person will not be able to continue on in the race. That person could become lost. That person will not be able to grow and mature as a faithful servant of Jesus Christ.
In fact, it is the responsibility of each one of us as members of this congregation or as the pastor of this church that we ensure all our members have the means to be growing spiritually. This does not mean we are to force them to grow.
Just like livestock or crops, you can give them all the necessary food and minerals and such, but you cannot force them to thrive. That will only come from their own hearts.
However, as leaders within the church, we are accountable for all those within the body of believers of our family. We are to help them as they press toward the goal for the prize.
A church also needs to mature in its spiritual walk as well. A church cannot remain at one level. It needs to be deep and true in its beliefs as well. Listen to what Paul said to the Thessalonians in his Second letter to them.
Stand firm, then, brothers, and keep the traditions that we taught you, whether by word of mouth or by letter. (2 Thessalonians 2:15 NJB)
In other words, if the church itself is not standing firm on the Word of God, how can it expect individual members to grow spiritually? We need to be actively engaged in bringing people into better understanding of the Word. The leadership, which is comprised of not just the pastor, but all those who hold leadership positions within a particular church, need to be fully engaged in spiritual growth themselves, thus furthering the growth of the church within itself.