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More Than A Title

By Pastor Phillip Howle
web posted October 1, 2014

RELIGION – I read this week about gentlemen whom I don’t know and who does a job I have never done, but a person who many readers have something in common with. The story was about Jesse Andre Thomas, the town auditor for Portsmouth, Virginia and his $92,700-a-year position. His job is to root out government waste, fraud and abuse, but by all accounts it seems, this gentleman has literally done nothing.

Computer records show that he has gone more than a year without logging into the city’s financial records system.  According to a Virginian-Pilot newspaper report, he did not release a single audit since taking the position 14 months ago. In his tenure, the official has only logged on to the city’s financial system twice in the first few weeks of taking the job, and never since, according to records obtained by the paper. The same records indicate Thomas often goes months without scheduling a meeting or appointment.

So why do I tell you about this? Because most people in Edgefield have church membership somewhere. That means that only some roll book in some dusty church office there is proof of a time when the person “joined” the church. The sad reality is that for many churches, attendance may, on any given Sunday, be a 1/3 or less of the total membership.  That means that these people have a title: member. They probably have certain expectations from the church that they don’t attend or give to support. They would want visits from the pastor when they are sick, hot meals from Sunday school classes when they recover and they may even want their opinion heard on certain matters, all the while giving nothing at all in any way to the actual church.

But our verse for this week, Hebrews 10:24-25, tells us the responsibilities of our membership. “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, (25) not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”

The phrase “stir up one another” can be translated as “provoke one another.”  The idea is to call out and challenge one another to love and do good. This is mutual accountability; this is a spiritual workout partner. It is about sharing with each other how we’re doing, but it’s also pushing each other to do better. We need to be active church members who care about the others in our church and so challenge a brother or sister to step up their Christian walk or ask them about their spiritual laziness.

Then you have “Encouraging one another” we can’t encourage one another unless we are regularly together. This should not be limited to the confines of church walls. When we are invested in church life and thereby in mutual encouragement and standing with one another, we live as Christ’s body, whatever may happen—even as “the Day” draws near, the return of Christ.

The inescapable reality is that faith flourishes in the company of other growing disciples. Friendships with other believers increase your own capacity to trust God. If you don’t have relationships with others who are following Jesus, you are undermining your own faith. Going to church should be a continual exercise in faith strengthening.

Is your faith struggling? If you are not active in the life of a church, this will be one of the factors. Being involved does not keep one from struggling in their faith. But it means that when I am struggling or falling down, I have brothers and sisters who are there to pick me up, pray for me and support me.

So go to church—go every week. Don’t just make it a habit, make it your lifestyle. You might say “but church is boring.” Maybe your church is boring, but it maybe your attitude or disinterest in God. If you simply are not enjoying your church, then pray and see if God would have you look for another church. Just don’t pass off your personal frustrations and sin as the fault of the church and not your own.

Quit holding onto a title and start doing something for yourself and your church by being an active part of it!

Pastor Phillip

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