Involvement with Other Believers
One of the most important spiritual disciplines you can develop is faithful involvement with other believers. I am always amazed when a Christian tells me, “Oh, I don’t go to church very often. I’d rather stay at home and listen to Christian television or radio programs, or listen to Bible-teaching tapes.” Others reluctantly admit to me, “We only go to church when we can work it into our family schedule” or “I go to church as often as I can,” which usually means not very often.
I certainly am all in favor of Christian television, radio, and tape ministries, but I also know they are no substitute for your regular attendance and faithful involvement in the worship services, ministry outreaches, and educational programs of your church. The writer to the Hebrews said:
Let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching. — Hebrews 10:24-25
What does it mean to “stir up love and good works”? Why do such things need to be stirred up?
Why is it necessary that other Christians be involved in that process? What role does the church play, according to these verses?
The Body of Christ
No Christian has ever been called to “go it alone” in his or her faith. We need one another. The church was designed from the beginning to function as the living body of Christ on the earth after the Lord’s resurrection and ascension. The apostle Paul wrote:
For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness. — Romans 12:4-8
Part of the reason that we need to be in regular fellowship with other believers is so that we might receive the benefit of their spiritual gifts and, in turn, give our spiritual gifts to the body of Christ. We individually are made stronger as we both receive and give. Simultaneously, the church to which we belong is made stronger and more effective as a whole.
Why does Paul use the analogy of the human body to describe the church? How does this illustrate the importance of regular church involvement?
What is the purpose of spiritual gifts, according to the passage above? Where are they to be used?
Our Ministry to Other Believers
Jesus made it very clear that our foremost ministry to other believers is to love them. He said to His disciples shortly before His crucifixion:
This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. — John 15:12
The apostle Paul echoed this command:
Be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us. — Ephesians 5:1–2
The New Testament writers identified several specific ways in which we are called to show love to one another within the body of Christ. Paul wrote to the Colossians:
Let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. — Colossians 3:15–17
As members of the Body of Christ, we are to
- pray for one another (James 5:16).
- speak well of one another (James 4:11).
- speak truthful and admonishing words to one another (Romans 15:14).
- be hospitable and giving to one another (1 Peter 4:9–10).
- comfort one another (1 Thessalonians 5:11).
- pursue the common good (1 Thessalonians 5:15).
- encourage and build up one another (1 Corinthians 14:26).
- bless one another (1 Peter 3:8–9).
List the functions of the church, in your own words, from each passage below.
- Romans 15:14
- 1 Corinthians 14:26
- 1 Thessalonians 5:11, 15
- James 4:11
- James 5:16
- 1 Peter 4:9–10
Our Service to Others Outside the Church
Along with others in the body of Christ, we are to be involved in active ministry to those who do not know the Lord. Jesus sent out His disciples two by two. He gave them power and authority over all demons and power to cure diseases. He told them to preach the kingdom of God and heal the sick (Luke 9:1–2).
On another occasion Jesus sent out seventy of His disciples, again two by two, and He said to them,
The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest … Heal the sick there, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you’. — Luke 10:2, Luke 10:9
If we desire to be followers of Jesus today, we must acknowledge that He is sending us out as well. He is saying the same things to us:
we are to heal the sick and proclaim the kingdom of God.
Taking On the Ministry of Christ
Jesus used the words of Isaiah to describe His ministry on earth:
The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, because the Lord has anointed Me to preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn, to console those who mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified. — Isaiah 61:1–3
What roles of the church does Jesus describe in these verses?
Which of those roles are you involved with? Which of those ministries have you been a recipient of?
Jesus also taught His disciples:
Then the King will say to those on His right hand, “Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.” Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, “Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?” And the King will answer and say to them, “Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.” — Matthew 25:34-40
What roles of the church does Jesus describe in this parable?
Why does Jesus say that we are ministering to Him when we minister to other people? What does this imply concerning your involvement in a local church?
We are never called to “go it alone” in our faith, and we are never called to “go it alone” in ministry to others. Jesus sent out His disciples two by two.
If two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them. — Matthew 18:19-20
Paul encouraged the Philippians,
Stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel. — Philippians 1:27
Excerpted with permission from Practicing Basic Spiritual Disciplines by Charles Stanley, copyright Thomas Nelson.
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Are you involved in your local church? If not, why not? Where do you serve your community? Today, let’s be exhorted and challenged to get involved with other believers and to serve those within and without the Church. Imagine what good things could happen! Come join the conversation on our blog. We want to hear from you about digging into community in the Church. ~ Devotionals Daily