Tuesday, May 9, 2017

The Congregationalist's Responsibility

The notion that "With great power comes great responsibility," does not find its origin within the pages of a Stan Lee comic, but rather, in Holy Scripture:

From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, even more will be expected. -Luke 12:48

In my last post, "The Congregationalist Manifesto," I explained how Jesus turned the tables on the religious authorities, taking power away from them. Now, all believers are filled with the Holy Spirit and we are all Priests. That post focused on our freedoms and our rights. This one will focus on our newfound responsibilities and practical ways to live them out.

1. Be In Relationship
And let us watch out for one another to provoke love and good works, not neglecting to gather together as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging each other and all the more as you see the day approaching. -Hebrews 10:25

It is our responsibility and JOY to meet together regularly with other believers to encourage each other, to stir each other up to do good works and grow together in Christ, even and especially when it gets hard. Don't give up on relationships with others because we are all part of the family of God, brothers and sisters for life. Worshipping together is part of family life:

Let the word of Christ dwell richly among you, in all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another through psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. -Colossians 3:16

2. Be In The Word
We should always show up to church ready to learn and grow.

As soon as it was night, the brothers and sisters send Paul and Silas away to Berea. Upon arrival, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. The people here were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, since the received the word with eagerness and examined the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. Consequently, many of them believed, including a number of the prominent Greek women as well as men. -Acts 17:10-12

We must learn to strike a balance between gullible and skeptic. Trust, but Verify is a good way to phrase it. The Bereans listened with open hearts and open minds to the message of the Gospel, then they went straight to the word of God to see of what Paul and Silas said was true. They had a good attitude and honored the word of God. There is nothing wrong with questioning a teacher, it is the most natural thing for a student to do. Listening carefully to a message and then studying the subject further when you get home is not disrespectful, it is the highest form of respect. More importantly, this honors God's Word. Because of the actions of the Bereans, both Jews and Greeks were saved.

3. Be In Service To Others
If there is any encouragement in Christ, if any consolation in love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, make my joy complete by thinking the same way, having the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. -Philippians 2:1-4

Serve others out of love.

4. Be In Partnership/Cooperation

Partnership/Cooperation With Each Other
Obey your leaders and submit to them, since they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account, so that they can do this with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you. Pray for us.... -Hebrews 13:17

The word obey means to trust and put confidence in. The word submit, or hupotasso, in Greek, means to cooperate and partner together with. It stems from the word for rowers, rowing a boat in perfect unison, going in the same direction and working toward the same goal. While we must be ever vigilant, watching out for false teachers, we must be equally vigilant to recognize, support, choose, encourage and strengthen godly leaders. Which is more noble: To be forced to submit to authority? Or to willingly work together as brothers and sisters because we truly want to? We don't submit out of fear or because they have power over us. We willingly choose to cooperate because they are our brothers and sisters and we love them and should genuinely want to help. This is a beautiful and special thing. This partnership includes praying for our leaders as we are asked to do in the verse above and it also includes working together for the sake of the Gospel and supporting them and the work of the church financially. (Romans 15:25-29, 1 Timothy 5:17-18) We serve, teach, lead worship, discuss important issues and offer wise counsel and advice, giving considered input into the decisions of the church.

Now we ask you brothers and sisters, to give recognition to those who labor among you and lead you in the Lord and teach you, and to regard them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. -1 Thessalonians 5:12-13

Partnership/Cooperation With God
For we are God's co-workers.... -1 Corinthians 3:9

God has given us the opportunity to relate to each other in a very special way, not out of duty or obligation, but out of love. He has invited us to share in His mission and His work. We don't work under compulsion. We work from a place of liberty and joy. We are partners with each other, co-workers in Christ.

Don't miss the 1st installment in this series:

The 3rd installment shows the practical application of congregationalism:

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