March 28th

Fellowship in Faith

11For I am yearning to see you, that I may impart and share with you some spiritual gift to strengthen and establish you; 12That is, that we may be mutually strengthened and encouraged and comforted by each other's faith, both yours and mine.”  Romans 1:11-12 AMP 

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. 25Let 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” Hebrews 10:24-25 NIV 

The Apostle Paul wrote the above verses to the Roman Christians.  Paul’s comments point to some of the benefits of being connected with the local church.  Paul longed to impart a spiritual gift to them to establish and strengthen them. He further explained this as a type of “spiritual gift exchange” where everyone would be strengthened, encouraged and comforted by each other’s faith.  

There are many influences that compete to draw us away from the local church.  With the advent of many excellent television ministries, we can be tempted to simply feed on the teaching they offer, while abandoning the local church.  The convenience of not having to dress up and go out can be tempting, especially if we stayed up late the night before, or have some projects we’d like to get started on (while we’re watching TV).  

Another trap to fall into is “church shopping.” It is linked to the customer service mentality of the business world.  This mentality can cause us to come to church expecting to be entertained…i.e. a powerful sermon, electrifying music, perfect climate control and comfortable pews.  If the church fails to meet our expectations in any area, we can always go to the next church down the street and see what they’re up to.  Such “church-shopping” is a dangerous disease that can distract us from the most important reason for going to church – to worship God.  Under the guise of finding the church “where God wants us to be,” we can easily deceive ourselves (and others) about what we’re really looking for.  

One of the basic benefits of plugging into the right church is that we can give and receive encouragement, comfort and strength.  As Paul explained, this occurs through the use of the spiritual gifts that God has given each of us.  Since God gifts each person differently, meeting as a group provides a wonderful variety of gifts that meet the needs of the people present.  Those who don’t go to the church will miss out on the benefit of the spiritual gifts that they desperately need (whether they know it or not). Like a beautiful tapestry, the assembled church with their gifts reflects the very glory of God. 

There is no perfect church, because there are no perfect people.  If you are striving to walk in purity you will need encouragement along the way from people who share your commitment to Christ.  If you are not attending a good church where this is happening, consider making a change.  This could mean using your gifts to get things started there, or going to another church.  If you decide to look for a different church, try to avoid the “shopping mentality.”  For suggestions on criteria for a good church, please visit our Church page.  As each of us is part of the body of Christ, we need the support in our faith that comes from meeting together.  

Questions for further thought:

Prayer:

“Heavenly Father, Thank you for giving me the body of Christ for my encouragement and strengthening of my faith.  I pray that your will be done in my church situation (add specifics).  Please teach me how to use my spiritual gifts to help and encourage others.  Please grant me the humility to receive help from others and be ministered to. Thank you that I don’t have to walk the Christian life alone, and that you are always with me. I praise your name now and forever. Amen.”