The church - there are many metaphors for the church. We are the Body of Christ. We are the Bride of Christ. We have a homework assignment for the coming week to identify some more of these metaphors ---
There was a statue in front of a church in France of Jesus - and during WWII the hands were broken off of it. There was a sculptor who offered to repair it, however the church decided to keep the statue the way it was - with hands broken off, and added this inscription, "In this world, Christ has no hands but ours, for we are His body."
Each member of the body has a different part. We all have a purpose and function. There is a difference between attendance and church membership. Membership requires more than attending a service, but being the hands, eyes, fingers, nose, toes. God has called each of us to do something. What is that which He has called me to do, my purpose? We were not called to be warts, and just sit there.
As a member in the body of Christ there are five requirements to be come a "member" of our church -
1. You must be born again - acknowledge Christ died for you and commit your life to live for Him.
2. Baptism - in Matthew 28 Jesus tells us to go into all the world making disciples and baptising them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit (This is not a requirement for salvation - yet it is an outward expression of an inward change - a testimony to the world.)
3. Supporting the church through prayer - to make intercession for the body
4. Supporting the church financially - through tithing
5. Participating in discipleship - A disciple means "learner" - one who sits at the Master's feet drinking up every word
Imagine you are on an airplane, and as the flight attendant gives instructions on what to do in case of an emergency, the occupants of the plane may be barely listening. However should an emergency occur, and the flight attendant repeats the emergency instructions, every ear in attentive to what she has to say.
To be a disciple means to be hungry for the knowledge of God as if your very life depended on it.
These things above are for "members" and not "attenders"
In II Chronicles chapter 26 we read about King Uzziah. He was a good king - a godly man. He became king at 16 years old, and reigned for 52 years. He did what was right in the eyes of God, like his father before him. He was one of a few godly kings of Israel. He obeyed God. His walk matched his talk. Zachariah taught him to obey, fear and follow God. He was blessed, and his fame spread far - read on: II Chronicles 26:16 - But after Uzziah became powerful, his pride led to his downfall. He was unfaitful to the Lord his God, and entered the temple of the Lord to burn incense on the altar of incense.
Azariah, the priest tok eighty other courageous priests with him to confront Uzziah. The king could not serve as priest, and could not burn incense. Why? Because only One would be priest AND king - the Messiah - King of kings and the Great High Priest - Jesus Christ. Uzziah's punishment was that he broke out in leprosy, and it remained until the day he died, and was never allowed in the temple again.
Let's meet the "TATE" Family -
There's DICK-TATE - he thinks everything should go his way!
His sisters - AGGA- and IRRA-TATE - always keeping everything stirred up
His cousins - HEZZA- and VEGGA-TATE - always nay-saying everything
Grandpa - DEVAS-TATE - always in turmoil
His Aunt - EMMA-TATE - she always wants everything done like they did it in her "old church"
And with this family is a little boy- AMPU-TATE - who is watching all the adults around him - and he will eventually cut himself off from the church altogether
This is all craziness - If you find yourself grumpy and complaining - you're not alone - little eyes and ears watch and listen. We read in chapter 27 Uzziah's son Jotham did not enter the temple. Verse 2 tells us...He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, just as his father Uzziah had done, but unlike him he did not enter the temple of the Lord.
Porky told a story about wanting to take his daughters to the local high school football games - but not anymore! All they ever want is money. When you get to the gate, you can't even get in without giving them money. And the last time he went, he sat in front of some girls that sat talking the whole time about their boyfriends. Hypocrites! They weren't even paying attention to the game! And then there's all those things they say that I don't agree with! ---- This sounds ridiculous - and yet people say that about churches all the time, and we say nothing.
Being family is about coming together to serve one another in love. Without going to church you can still go to heaven, and still have a relationship with God - but it effects the next generation. Without giving your children a spiritual legacy, don't expect they'll pick it up!
In II Chronicles 28 we read that Jotham's son Ahaz worshipped idols, even sacrificing his own children. God allowed him to be handed over to the Arameans. His grandfather was thrown out of the temple - and his father would never enter - and he turned to idol worship. Enough is enough! It's not about me, it's all about Him. If we lose sight of that, and we'll lose a whole generation. Being a member of the body requires - belief, obedience, service, giving, and fellowship. It says I'm committed to do what God would have me do if He would have me do it here.
A personal note: I did not grow up in the church. It is only because of my dire need that I found the Lord - because He loved me and sought after me. This sermon really drove home to me the importance of giving my children a spiritual heritage.