Summary: How are you contributing positively to God’s family?

Two men riding on a bicycle built for two came to a long steep hill. It took a great deal of struggle for the men to complete what proved to be a very stiff climb. When they got to the top, the man in front turned to the other fellow and said, “Boy, that sure was a hard climb.” The fellow in back replied, “Yes, and if I hadn’t kept the brakes on all the way, we would have certainly have rolled back down that hill.”

I don’t know about you, but I would ask the guy in the back, “Whose side are you on anyway?”

This is the fourth of a five Sunday series during which we have been looking at keys to improve our ability to see and hear God and allow Him to have His way in our lives.

So far we have studied the keys of focusing on God the father, the reality of our fallen human condition, the truth that is revealed both in Christ and in the Bible, the importance of prayer in pursuing God and His will for our lives, and the need to let go of habits that keep us from seeing and hearing God clearly. Each of these keys have one thing in common –all deal with the inner, the personal, aspects of seeing and hearing God.

For the final two Sundays we now move to the outer, the corporate aspects of seeing and hearing God and what we have and have not done with the inner, the personal aspects will definitely impact the outer corporate ones.

In our church’s history we have stressed two major themes – unity and holiness. DS Warner, considered by many to be the founder of our church, believed that all of the denominationalism that existed at that point in history was wrong and he believed that he had been given a vision of the church that was holy and unified in Christ and made it his calling to make that vision a reality.

Now, we live in a different age, a different time than when our church’s founding fathers were alive over 100 years ago. Many of the societal values that we widely held back then are not help today. But, the human condition has not changed. We are still in need of a transformation that is only made possible by Christ.

One of the many value of this day and age that seems to be lacking is loyalty. “It seems that people today do not have the loyalty that they once had,” people say. Why?

One of the reasons is that personal choice has become a preferred value over loyalty. Take your local grocery store for instance. Think back even 30 years ago – 1970. Can you recall the grocery store you or your family shopped at? Now think about today’s grocery store.

Take TV. Not too long ago, you basically had CBS, NBC, ABC, and PBS. Today you have Fox, ESPN, TNN, CMT, A and E, Disney, BET, HBO, HBO 2, ESPN 2, Nickelodion, TV Land, just to name a few.

Choice is a part of our social landscape and there is little we can do about it. Besides, we like our choices, too.

Loyalty and Unity are two keys to improving our ability to see and hear God clearly in this day and age. And they are tied into the church and its Biblical, not institutional nor organizational, reasons for its existence.

As I reflect on the opening story about the two bicyclists, I wonder what each of them was loyal to. One seemed to be loyal to the goal of moving forward. The other to the goal of staying safe. And these two conflicting loyalties caused them to work against, not with, one another and thus a strained unity developed.

What is loyalty? Here is a suggested working definition: it is a current commitment that is rooted in the promise of something from the future.

We are loyal to a lot of things. Sports teams. The Church. Our Family. In this day and age – ourselves. But, how loyal are we to Christ? And how loyal are we really to the church?

Why do we need to gather together on a regular basis in a building we call the church with a group of people we also call the church?

Here are some reasons: Because it is the socially acceptable thing to do. Because a person does it out of habit or tradition. Because we want to see one another.

But, what is the Biblical reason we need and must gather together on a regular basis so that a loyalty is built and sustained down through the years? One, which is, sustained on a basis other than personal preference.

A key passage to help us understand and practice the Biblical reason for loyalty is found in Hebrews 10:23-25. (READ THE PASSAGE)

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