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The Work of the Church

By Bruce W. Robida

 

 

I often hear preachers talk about, “Doing the work of the Church.” In almost every case, the impression I get from them is that the work of the Church mainly involves maintaining the facilities and programs of that particular Church establishment.  “We need volunteers for Vacation Bible School”, or “We need volunteers for Children’s Church”, or “We need people to sing in the choir.” And the list goes on.  If you’re not plugged in to some program, or involved in some Church sponsored activity, then perhaps you’re not doing the work of the Church, and you need to be.  These things that I am talking about are what could be called, housekeeping.  Certainly, these things are important and there ought to be someone taking care of them.  There is nothing wrong with programs and activities to involve Church members, however the problem lies in the notion that, that’s all there is.  The overwhelming sense that I get is that doing the work of the Church involves keeping it all within the confines of that specific place. The work of the Church includes housekeeping, but housekeeping should be secondary to going outside the walls of the Church buildings and doing the work that Christ expects us to do with respect to others.

I think before we can ask the question, “Who is doing the work of the Church”? We should be asking, “What is the work of the Church?” 

Christ gave His disciples two of the greatest commands: The first is found in MT 22:37-38 . Jesus replied: "`Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment.”

One of the ways we show God how much we love Him is when we tell others about Him.  He commissioned all of us to spread the good news, make disciples of all nations and baptize in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. MK 16:15-1

Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." MT 28:16-20

What does it mean to be a disciple?  The Greek word for disciple is matheteuo (math-ayt-yoo'-o) Strong's Concordance Ref. # 3100 ; intransitively, to become a pupil; transitively, to disciple, i.e. enrol as scholar:  KJV--be disciple, instruct, teach.

In other words, God commissioned us to preach the Gospel and make all nations, students of the Gospel.  Being Born again, claiming to be a Christian means that you already understand the basics of your faith and have accepted it. There is no need to keep going into those basic doctrines. Your discipleship should begin beyond the basics and should begin to get into the heart of God.  Once you are well grounded in your faith and that doesn’t mean you know everything, you qualify to carry on the commission that Christ originated with the apostles. They only lived with Christ about three years.  That is all the time they had to prepare for the great commission. How long have you professed to be a Christian? Don’t you know that you can preach, teach, baptize and even make disciples?  This is the first part of doing the work of the Church.  This is a labor of love, not reserved solely for the pastor.  He is here to guide us and to help us in our efforts to bring people into the faith.  It is not only his responsibility, but it is also our responsibility.

The second part of doing the work of the Church, and the second greatest command that Christ gave His disciples is found in MT 22:39 “...`Love your neighbor as yourself.' ...”

What does it mean to love your neighbor as yourself?  It means that you have compassion.  It means that you give help to the needy, the widows, the weak, the fatherless, the homeless, the hopeless, and the helpless.  It means that you show mercy to your fellow man.  The apostle Paul said,“ Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” GAL 6:2

On my way to Church many times, I've  seen cars broken down on the side of the road.  Sometimes, it was obvious that they too were on their way to Church.  But because my family was with me and I didn’t want to be late, I didn’t stop to offer some assistance.  You have to understand that sometimes I do stop and help people, but because it would have caused me to be late for Church, or miss it altogether, I kept right on going and I had the nerve to praise and worship God without a guilty conscience.  Actually, I didn’t get off that easy.  I was in denial, and today I realize that I really did feel guilty about it.  Was it more important that I get to Church, or should I have stopped to help someone who was in need of help?  It’s not like I don’t know anything about cars; I know a lot about cars.  If it was a greyhound bus, maybe I would have been justified in not stopping because I don’t know anything about greyhound busses and I’m sure Greyhound bus drivers have a plan in case they break down, they may even have radios to call for help.  The point is, God gave me talents to do certain things and I am responsible to use my talents not only to make a living, but also to do good deeds.  God didn’t give us talents so that we can keep everything to ourselves; He gave them to us so that we can not only help ourselves, but so that we can help others.

Carry each other’s burdens so that no one will be over burdened. That command was not so that one person can be heavily burdened while another person has no burden.  If we would live according to God’s ways, there would be equality as far as burdens are concerned.  If we all shared in all of the work, it would get done faster, more efficiently and with much less effort on those having to do the work. 

Christ said, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. MT 11:28-30

We need to learn the ways of Christ so that we can keep busy to accomplish God’s work, but not so busy that we become weary and burdened.  When some of the people do all of the work, those people can become weary, feel burdened, and burn out.  It is a disservice to Christ when few in the church carry the burdens not only in the church, but also in the world.  We are in the world not of the world.  We are here to spread the Gospel and serve others.  We are here to work. 

Read what the Bible says about doing the work of the church.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-- not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. EPH 2:8-10

"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. MT 5:14-16

Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. 1CO 15:58

But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. This is why it says: "When he ascended on high, he led captives in his train and gave gifts to men." (What does "he ascended" mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions? He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.) It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more. You, however, did not come to know Christ that way. Surely you heard of him and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body. "In your anger do not sin" : Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need. EPH 4:7-28

By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man's work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames. 1CO 3:10-15

This is what it means to do the work of the church. The duties of the pastor, preacher or teacher are a necessary function of the church, but those duties do not preclude them from doing the work outside of the church.  Likewise, even though you might do the work outside of the church that does not mean you do not have a responsibility to do some of the work inside the church.  It all needs to be done, and the burden is too great for so few. 

Doing the work of the church involves more than making sure there are enough singers in the choir or straightening out the chairs after a Sunday morning service.  It mostly involves caring for the citizens around you wherever you are. Is there a list of widows in your church?  Do you know any?  How about single parents who are struggling to make ends meet?  Are there any of those in your neighborhood?  What about children who live with only one parent?  Do you know who they are, or even where they are?  These are the people who need our help.  God put us where we are so that we can help all of those around us who truly need our help.  There is no way we can help them all, but each one of us is capable of doing something to make someone else’s burden lighter. 

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." MT 11:28-30

We should aspire to be like Christ in every way.  We should be looking to lighten someone else’s load. And why should we be so eager to do that?

"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. MT 5:14-16

So that they may praise our Father in heaven!

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. JAS 1:17

I know and you know that all good things come from God, even to those who reject Him.  But God wants everyone to know that He is real and by our good deeds, they may one-day praise Him.

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