Summary: With what God has entrusted to us, are we faithful not only as individuals but as a church toward God. Are we willing to faithfully pursue Him and walk with Him no matter what! God put the church in the world; Satan tries to put the world in the church. Be faithful!
Opening illustration: I wonder what Christ or even the apostle Paul would say if they were to visit our churches today. What a beehive of activity! Committees, programs, entertainment without end. But worship is often downplayed, services are cut back, prayer meetings are eliminated. Some call these improvements, but are they really changes for the better?
There’s a story about a woman who became seriously ill and was taken to the hospital. In the evening her husband asked how she was doing, and he was told that she was improving. For several days her doctor gave the same report. Then one day she unexpectedly died. When the man saw the doctor, he asked, “Well, what did she die of—improvements?”
I know of a church that died of “improvements.” The first was to hire a minister with unbiblical ideas. Then the prayer meeting was changed into a literary debating society. Finally, the minister stopped praying from the pulpit. The church is now dead. I suggest that someone put a tombstone in front of it with these words: “Died of Improvements.”
There’s always room for the right kind of improvements in our churches. But let’s make sure they are guided by the life-changing principles of God’s Word, not the deadening philosophies of this world. (Illustration by M.R. De Haan, Our Daily Bread)
Introduction: Paul is going through a struggle for these Christians whom he has never seen but has loved. He associates the Laodicaeans with the Colossians, and speaks of all those who had never seen his face. He is thinking of that group of three towns in the Lycus valley, Laodicaea, Hierapolis, and Colosse stood close together. Laodicaea and Hierapolis stood in full view of each other on either side of the valley, with the river lycus flowing between them, six miles apart; and Colosse was 12 miles further up the river. In fact Laodicaea was a wealthy center for trade and commerce, but later Christ would criticize the believers there for their lukewarm commitment (Revelation 3:14-21 (quickview) ). The fact that Paul wanted this letter to be passed on to the Laodicaean church indicates that false teaching may have spread there as well. It is the group of Christians in that area of three towns of which Paul is thinking, and which is picturing in his mind. Paul is calling and challenging these Churches to be faithful to God.
What are the marks of the faithful church?
1. The love factor (vs. 1-2)
Paul prayed that these Christians might be joined together, knit together, and kept together. Solitary Christians are apt to be weak Christians, for in this sphere as in all others "union is strength." If Christian people are not truly knit together, the cause of Christ may suffer, for through the severances caused by division the enemy can keep thrusting his darts which must be parried alone. That is why the apostle elsewhere urges believers earnestly to strive "to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" (Ephesians 4:3 (quickview) ). One of the greatest powers that Satan wields today is due to disunion among the genuine people of God. It is true alike of the Christian home, congregation, and denomination that this wedge of discord can become one of the enemy's most powerful weapons. On the other hand, where the brethren are able to "dwell together in unity," there the Lord commands His blessing (Psalm 133:3 (quickview) ).