Take a moment to think about your most recent interactions with your brothers and sisters in Christ, specifically those who are your fellow church members. What are they like? Do you talk about sports, the weather, the latest political news? Was it a sort of “Hey, how are you?” “Good, how are you? ” surface level conversation? None of these interactions are bad per se; however, when we covenanted together with a local body of believers, we are covenanted with them to do something specific. When it comes to considering how to interact with church members two components are of utmost importance: The Bible and your local church’s Church Covenant.
Consider for a moment, the church at Thessalonica. Paul, addressing this church, writes in 2 Thessalonians 1:3-4 that “the love of every one you for one another is increasing.” That little phrase is immensely encouraging! A church, a local gathered body of believers, covenanted together, is growing in love there for one another, even in the face of persecution, as was the case with the church at Thessalonica. We must now ask ourselves the following two questions, “What would an increasing love for one another look like in your church?” and, “How does increasing love occur and what means has the Lord given us to see this accomplished?”
Local Churches Growing in Love
To begin, we pray, knowing that it is God who does the work and apart from His Spirit working in us we have no hope. In 1 Thessalonians 3:12 Paul’s prays, “and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all.” In 2 Thessalonians 1:3 we see that God has graciously heard and answered Paul’s prayer, resulting in an increasing love for one another flowing throughout the Thessalonian church! Let this truth encourage and fuel your prayer life, specifically for your local church to grow in love.
Do Not Be Passive in the Work of the Lord
Be careful not to view prayer as a means for you to be passive in growth in God’s grace. Instead, we pray to the Lord to do the work in our hearts, and then come under the God’s Word and do what He has told us to do in our churches.
Our interactions with one another can either serve to increase or decrease our love for another, depending on whether they are biblical or not. There are too many ways to mention in this brief article, but let’s consider a few of them.
Support The Testimony of Your Local Church Together
Supporting the testimony of the local church is of great importance, since it takes the whole church to do this work. Together, the church protects our witness and live our lives in a demonstration that God, through the person and work His Son Jesus Christ, has redeemed us unto Himself for His glory. Now let’s briefly consider the following four helpful points:
- First, we are called to love God supremely and glorify in all things (Matthew 22:37-38).
- Then, we are called to live a Spirit-filled Christ-like life (Galatians 5:22-23).
- After, we come together every Lord’s Day to faithfully worship Him together through the reading, singing, praying, and preaching of God’s Word (Hebrews 10:25).
- Finally, we must demonstrate the love of Christ to all people (Matthew 22:39).
A covenanted body of believers who regularly do these things together will honor the Lord and support the testimony of their local church which God has called them to.
We Will Guard the Unity of Our Church
As Christians, we are called to be faithful members of the local church which God has placed us in. A major part of being a faithful member is protecting the unity of the church as a whole. We do this by honoring the churches statement of faith (2 Timothy 1:14). We also show love for one another, as the Lord has first shown His love for His people (John 13:34-35). Love and unity are on display when God’s people pray with and for one another, minister to one another, and speak to one another in a way that builds each other up in the faith.
We may not think of love as a form of discipline, but part of loving our fellow church members is aimed to protect the unity of the church. As God’s people, we do this by submitting to the church’s authority and lovingly assuming our responsibility to participate in the discipline of other members (1 Cor. 5, Galatians 6:1, Matt. 18:15-20). Lastly, we guard the unity of the church when we follow godly leaders that have been chosen by the leaders and members of our local church (Hebrews 13:17).
Supporting the Ministries of Our Church
When you attach yourself to a local body of believers, you are affirming that you will support the work of the church in ways commanded by God in Scripture. Supporting the ministry of the church includes being equipped to serve the church by its leaders (Ephesians 4:11-12). It also means cheerfully giving of your finances (2 Cor. 9:7), and seeking to cultivate the heart of a servant by looking for ways to serve the church and the Lord (Romans 12:11). Another great way to support your church is by taking part in the church’s missions effort locally and globally (Matthew 28:18-20). You can do this by supporting a missionary sent out by your church financially or in prayer. Maybe you would even consider relocating to a different country to help church planting efforts.
God’s Grace and Spirit’s Power
My aim in this article has been to help you have a better understanding of what God has called you to do as a member of your local church. This calling is not something you can do alone. Apart from God’s grace and the enablement of the Holy Spirit, you and I have no hope of being faithful church members. But, by God’s grace and the Holy Spirit’s work in us, we can joyfully obey what God called has commanded us to do!
The tasks mentioned in this article are the calling of the whole church. It is not just you who are called to support the testimony, protect the unity, and support the ministries of the church. When the church acts as one body, joined in a covenant with each other and the Lord, we are endeavoring to honor Christ and demonstrate the gospel before a watching world.
To be sure, there is much more that could be added to this article. We have not reached the summit of this Mt. Everest-sized topic, but Lord-willing we are beginning to see the importance of interacting with one another in ways that demonstrate obedience to the Lord and bring Him glory. It is a breathtaking measure of God’s grace that He would save us, grant us the gift of the local church, and allow us to grow closer together to Him and one another in the local church.