I really want to be the kind of local church that God wants us to be.
But is it really, actually possible?
I guess if we just looked at ourselves and thought it were up to us, we would have every right to wonder. But in Ephesians 4, Paul tells us we are not on our own just struggling to make this church work.
Jesus has actually gifted us for this.
In verses 11 and 12.
“And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and the teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.”
Paul has told us about God giving each one of us a gift and he’s been speaking more generally, I suppose, but here, he brings up an example of some of the specific gifts God’s given the church.
Now, some of these are one time gifts and others are ongoing but rather than get lost in some debate as to whether or not we have apostles and prophets today, I want you to see, why Paul said, God’s given these gifts to the church.
“To equip the saints for the work of ministry.”
He’s trying to help us understand just how the church is supposed to become what its supposed to be.
Over the years, God’s given all these individuals to the church with gifts of teaching, and the reason he’s given them these gifts of teaching is, not so that they could just gather a group around them, who just sit there and listen, but instead, so that they could equip those believers, for the work of the ministry.
And here we’re getting to it.
There are some people who think of the way the church works, like a taxi, almost.
You know you get in and you pay your money and you sit there and the pastor is supposed to drive you where you are supposed to go.
And others think of it like a soccer game.
With certain people in the church as the players, and the rest just showing up to cheer.
Where the biblical model, really, as we’ve been saying, is not a soccer game or a taxi, it’s the body, the church is the body, and for the body to function properly, every single part of the body has to be willing to go to work.
Which is why God gives us teachers.
To help us know what to do and how to do it.
That’s how Paul says the body gets built up.
As the men God’s given to the church, teach the Word of God, the people in that church, are equipped to serve and they start using their gifts and ministering to others, and the result is that the church becomes what it is supposed to be.
Is why it is so vital.
That if you are a Christian, and part of the church.
That you actually feel a responsibility to do something.
It’s not like in the taxi.
If someone’s standing there and he decides not to get in the taxi, it’s not like the taxi just falls apart.
That taxi doesn’t need him.
Or at a soccer game.
If you are really tired and you go to the game and you fall asleep, it’s not like the coach comes up to you afterwards, and says, oh man we would have won the game, if you could have just somehow stayed awake.
It’s like a body.
If one part of my body doesn’t function, it has an impact.
I think you’ve all known where you’ve had this part of your body, you never really thought about before.
It doesn’t seem important.
Until it stops working the way it should and then, you can’t barely believe how dramatically it affects you.
Like, I’ve heard of people who can’t sweat.
Most of the time when you sweat, you are like, oh this is kind of gross, I smell or whatever, but imagine if that part of your body someday stopped working. Obviously, sweat, cools you down, and so if you are not able to sweat, it’s actually possible, that you might die.
And so, you are not looking at your pores or whatever enables you to sweat, and saying, I am so thankful for you everyday, but, if they are not working, you are in trouble, and that’s kind of the way it is with the church.
We’ve got this thing.
Where we put the pastor in such a high position.
And it’s good to respect your leaders.
I am not asking you to just like dismiss us.
But, sometimes we put our pastors in such a high position, that we think they are the only ones who can minister to others.
So like, if someone’s sick at the hospital.
Everyone in the church might visit, but if the pastors don’t visit, then oh man, this church just doesn’t care. Or, we’ve got this person we know who needs someone to witness to them, and even though we are with them all the time, and we have a million opportunities to talk to them, we don’t feel like we need to say anything, we just need to get our pastor there to talk.
Even in the church, it might be that one of our friends is stuck in sin.
So, we like clearly see them in sin and we know it is sin.
But we just sit there.
We don’t do anything about it and we don’t even feel badly that we didn’t do anything about it, because we don’t even think of that as our responsibility.
I mean, I am not the pastor.
When the reality is, those are all not just the kinds of things that only pastors should be doing, in fact those are exactly the kinds of things that pastors are there to help you learn to be doing.
That’s the work of the ministry.
That’s part of why you’ve been gifted and that’s why you have teachers in order to help all of learn how to do that.