I have lived in small communities for all but two years of my fifty years of life. And with little complaint… other than occasional inconvenience, lack of privacy and choices with regards to shopping. But overall the blessings of living in a small West Virginia community outweighs the city any day of the week for this girl. But one thing I’ve noticed as I’ve been blessed with an opportunity to travel to other places in the United States and across the sea is the church community is the same regardless of location, and where ever I’ve gone I’ve been home!
The church community is ever on the decline in America because of lack of priority in families and a failure on the church to live in a manner that differs from the world, but it’s still the best thing going! It’s a gift indeed to walk into a congregation of people that you’ve never met before and within five minutes feel like you’ve been there a life time.
Philippians 2:1-5 ~ If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
Paul wrote to the Philippian Church with a few small, cost free requests. Get along. Help each other out. Have mercy. Perhaps that’s a part of the reason the church is on the decline we’ve stopped taking the time to live out Paul’s instructions.
To follow Paul’s example you must first be “in Christ”, having accepted His salvation and having the Holy Spirit dwell inside of you. That is how those people that I had never met before felt like old friends. Because the Spirit of Christ within us bore witness to one another. It’s an exciting thing! It was to Christian friends that Paul speaks to and I in turn am sharing his message in hopes of seeing at work in our churches today the unity of the community of believers. There were three things Paul mentioned that was necessary for unity.
- Consolation – relief or support. A feeling of hope! The gospel of Christ is a full service gospel. The same words that convict the soul of a need for salvation, soothes the soul with a feeling of hope. But it is of little effect without legs to walk beside someone or arms to hug them tight in a time of trouble. That’s why the church was established so we could help one another through the hard times of life.
- Comfort – security or relaxation. A feeling of home! When I walk into the sanctuary of Victory Baptist Church there is a joy that leaps within me. It’s my Father’s house, and as His child I feel as much at home there as I do in my living room at the house. That’s how it should be for every believer that walks through the door, whether or not it is their home church. There should be a feeling of belonging.
- Mercy – forgiveness or compassion. A feeling of humanity! We’ve all been in need of forgiveness; and essential for a feeling of unity in the believers is mercy. As someone once said “The church is a hospital for sinners, not a museum for saints.” Everyone who walks in the door should feel the acceptance of the Lord to come “just as I am.
Philippians 4:1-5 is a church that understands the J.O.Y. of the Lord. ~ Jesus first, others second, and yourself last.
When you walk into your church on Sunday morning, I hope you walk in looking for that soul who needs to link with yours for consolation, comfort and mercy and a feeling that they’ve just arrived home.