Charles Billingsley - Commentary
- Thursday, October 28, 1999
Nine months before I was born, I was already in church. My mom and dad were in full-time evangelism. We traveled all over the Western United States in what were known as "pioneer" areas. This really means that we focused on ministering in very small churches in towns with very small populations. My father would do the preaching, my mother would sing and play the piano, and my sister and I would terrorize the nursery workers. One night, while my dad was preaching, my sister escaped the nursery with a large sheet over her head and proceeded to run down the middle aisle of the sanctuary yelling "Boo, Boo!" I never did such rebellious things, as I was content merely beating other children over the head with my toy trucks.
Many fond memories come to mind from having spent most every night of my life in church, and I am very grateful for them. Although I may have missed out on a few tee-ball games and a few Saturday morning cartoons, I learned at a very early age the importance of being grounded in a local church.
While we were traveling those days, we always had a home church, a base of people who stood behind us and prayed for us. In fact, it was at our home church in Salt Lake City, Utah, that I was saved at six years old. I have learned first hand the importance of maintaining fellowship with believers.
As people who have been born again, we automatically become part of God's universal Church. We are part of the Bride of Christ. However, God's universal Church can be broken down into thousands upon thousands of individual pockets of people who meet together and worship Him on a regular basis. It is to one of these individual churches that you and I must be attached so we may "hold unswervingly to the hope we profess" (Hebrews 10:23). I have seen many a Christian turn away from the Lord and it was for one of two reasons: either they stopped having a quiet time with the Lord (individual worship), or they gave up meeting together at the church (corporate worship). Whether believers give up one or both of these crucial activities, it does nothing but weaken our faith and make us more susceptible to temptation and sin.
The local church is God's perfect provision for you and I to gain the strength and encouragement we need to keep on keepin' on. The best way to receive such things is to come with the right attitude, and the right attitude should be that of giving, not getting. We have churches splitting up all over the place because of namby-pamby self-centered arguments that amount to nothing but a tremendous waste of time. These arguments arise because, at some point, we take over and decide it's our church. It's not our church, it's God's church! As the Bride of Christ we are to remain under submission to His authority. And, somehow, I don't think He's too interested in the color of the carpet, the arrangement of the flowers, or what side the piano is on. He's interested in our attitude of worship (Malachi 1)-and our attitude should be that of giving, not getting.
Do you know what else He's interested in? He's interested in how His Church is fulfilling His plan. Not only is the local church God's provision for our exhortation, but it is also God's plan to reach this world for Him. You've heard it said that we are the only Bible most people will ever read. We are the only Jesus most people will ever see. God wants His Church to carry out His commission (Matthew 28:19-20) one heart at a time. We cannot do this if we forsake the assembling of ourselves together (Hebrews 10:25). For that is where we draw our strength-from one another. God has provided us His Church, let's use it! God has given us His plan, let's do it! God bless you as you go!
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