The Church beyond Covid

During the past two years of Covid disruption to the life of our church family, some have asked, “Doesn't the church just add a further complication to the already complex life and can’t I just be a stay-at-home Christian?

What does being members of the Church and its mission really offer?

To answer this question, we do well to reaffirm God’s intention for Christian relationship as seen in Gospel of John ch 13.

John 13 v 34 - 35
A new command I give you: love one another. As I loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples if you love one another.

The Church is God’s chosen vehicle for making Himself known to men and women, demonstrated in godly conduct, fellowship, and serving. The Bible teaches us that we are the personification of Christ, that is the representation, likeness or picture of Christ. Importantly, as such, the church family should be visible to the world.

So, what does God suggest our church community should look like?

Hebrews 10 v 21 - 25.
As we look for the how in this passage, keep an eye out for the four "let us" statements seen in this passage and also the reason for these "let us" statements.

21 since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.  23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.  24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.  25 Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another - and all the more, as you see the Day approaching. 

Four Characteristics of our church

The first characteristic of those in the family is found in verse 22: Let us draw near to God. This is a primary responsibility of all (let us) who share in this family relationship.

"Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess."  Why?  Because of the reliability of God's promises - for God our creator is the One who promised it and He is faithful.

“Let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love and good deeds.” Why?  To “Consider” others requires thoughtfulness as we speak to one another. “Love” is realised by consideration, acceptance and relationship building. “Good deeds” is realised by social action that take us beyond our comfort barriers. Through practical Christian living and embracing God's values we lift those values in our communities making Christ visible.

"Let us not give up meeting together”. Why? Because isolation leads to defensiveness, disgruntlement, disillusionment and then departure. Everyone is responsible - not waiting to receive but giving encouragement!

Heb 3 v 12 -13
See to it, Christians, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God.  13 But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness.

The church is God’s provision for you to grow in life, faith & serving as seen in these seven reasons for us to meet together as Christians

We meet as a community (family) to move outside of ourselves, to drop selfishness in favour of service, to experience good instead of evil, to know God instead of self-destructive behaviour.

In our church community we should find the best of acceptance, correction, nurture, preparation for life and challenge to social responsibility. The Church is to be a strong home for all who come. Like our natural family it presents opportunities & responsibilities.

We meet as a community (family) to worship God together.

Something special happens in a congregation that cannot happen alone. Contagious excitement, group singing, good preaching, encouraging fellowship, shared prayer, all add to the unique experience of worshipping God together.

We meet as a community (family) to develop our strengths and find help in our weaknesses.

The family uses their gifts and abilities to build up others and find help from them when they need it most.  We all have strengths and weaknesses, none of us are exempt. Loving God inevitably leads to commitment to other people.

We meet as a community (family) to catch a vision of how to make a significant difference in the world.

As a family we find inspiration to make our daily lives helpful to others, at home, work, school and in our recreation. The church family is able to organise groups of people to care for the hurting and lonely, the harassed and helpless, the confused and broken.  We form groups to encourage the effort of evangelism in order that others might make the joyous discovery that we have made and that creates a lasting contribution in life. 

We meet as a family to accomplish together what no one can do alone.

We stimulate each other to love and good deeds. We reach out to people in the community and around the world who need Christ. As salt and light the Christian family causes their community and nation to see Christ’s values, therefore making God visible.

We meet as a community (family) to hear, learn and obey God's word.

Through the Bible, God has revealed his plan for our current age and has given guidance for our lives. The Bible tells us what God is really like, and how to receive salvation. It tells us of our identity in Christ, who is Lord of the universe, and why evil is so ugly and what to do about it. In our society confused about what is really right or wrong, we hold a God-given value system. 

We meet as a community (family) to discover and develop a personal and corporate relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ

With His overwhelming kindness Christ treats us much better than we deserve. He showed His love when He died for us and rose again to forgive our sins and put us right with God. We grow to know Him better and better, like the best of friends, but even closer.  While this experience of Christ’s presence is daily, it is nurtured by fellowship with other Christians. Wonderfully, this meaningful relationship with God lasts forever. 

In conclusion,

I know the road of Covid has been hard and stressful. God has provided us with an invitation to respond to these difficult times by engaging in fellowship in His church. Being part of the Christian family sure beats not being part of that family! GC3 invites you to come and join local church and meet Jesus on a walk of faith as a church family together.

Murray Stevenson