God didn’t set us up for an angry rejection but for salvation by our Master, Jesus Christ. He died for us, a death that triggered life. Whether we’re awake with the living or asleep with the dead, we’re alive with him! So speak encouraging words to one another. Build up hope so you’ll all be together in this, no one left out, no one left behind. I know you’re already doing this; just keep on doing it. (I Thessalonians 5:11 MSG)
It is time to be a church were people truly love one another - more than one hour per week, but in everyday "doing" of life. It is time where the church doesn't just look back at all the blessing it has "known", but is a continual stream of God's blessings time and time again. It is time to BE the church - not to proclaim the church as a building or place, but a people, vibrant and strong, moving continually in the grace and love of Christ. Too many times we have the wrong view of the church. Maybe it because others see it as a place where things used to happen, but now is nothing more than a place where a bunch of stodgy people head off to for a couple hours each week. Perhaps it has become a place of judgment, not acceptance; a place of condemnation, not forgiveness. I want to challenge us today to consider the call given to us in our passage above. As the people of God, chosen by him, we are called to be "alive in him". We are called to be a people - not a place.
We build up, or we tear down. The church is either a group of people madly in love with Jesus, or it is a place of meeting, where little to no life exists. There is not any real middle-ground here. In a world hungry for truth, maybe not even knowing it is searching for truth or meaning, but hungry nonetheless, isn't it time we BE the church? We need to let the world know we are alive - but not because we build big buildings, or host all the greatest speakers on the circuit these days. We let the world know we are alive by BEING the church to our community, each other, and in our homes. Evangelism is vital - but it begins in our family first, them moves out into our community, and eventually it reaches the world. We build up, or we tear down - strong families produce a strong church, who in turn affect our world dramatically by the power and love of Christ evident within their ranks, not their walls!
We build through exhortation - encouragement. We challenge each other to be greater in our faith than we ever have been before - when we feel like giving up on life, we challenge each other to hold on a little harder and battle on. Too many today stand alone - no one there by their side to walk things out that are just too hard to walk through alone. It isn't by their choice as much as it is this missing element in the church today. We don't "stand with", we tend to "stand apart". Maybe this is our greatest weakness - possibly doing more damage than we might imagine. It is time for us to become encouragers - to come alongside those who might want to give up, whose families are in disarray, relationships all messed up, and homes crumbling from the inside out.
We build up by edifying each other - building up, not tearing down. Tough question here - are you more of a wreaking ball, or a layer of building blocks? While some construction work begins with the demolition of what needs to be replaced, it is done purposefully, in order, and with the specific understanding of how the "new" will take form in the place of what is torn down. God needs more builders and less wreaking crews - for builders know where damaged areas need carefully planned renovation and they know what areas need precious preservation and re-infusion of life. Let us become builders, skillfully using the grace God has given to us as the mortar that binds together and creates strong bonds among the various building blocks in God's church - each other! Just sayin!