Jay Sanders, pastor
Towaliga Baptist Church, Jackson
Have you heard the story about the drug-addicted atheist who drove by a church, saw the sign outside that said “Get Right or Get Left,” and immediately kicked his habit, walked away from his atheism, and confessed that Jesus Christ is the risen Lord?
Neither have I.
That’s because the real life-transforming message of the church is seen not on the sign outside of the building but on the people who spend so much time inside of it. Your church sign might have cute little sayings and your church lawn might be perfectly manicured but if the people who actually make up the church are not loving like Jesus told them to, your building will be just another roadside attraction.
Is your church devoted to loving one another?
The early church was. We know this because of what they devoted themselves to. They were committed to the word of God but they weren’t content just to hear it. They lived it by fellowshipping together and praying for one another.
Is your church empowered to love one another?
Sadly, much of the awe that happens in churches today has more to do with manipulation than the actual work of the Holy Spirit. Notice in this verse that many great things happened “through the apostles” rather than from them. God seems to enjoy working through people who are too busy loving one another to focus on their own celebrity or manipulating the masses.
Is your church unified in love?
This verse has been used before to promote Communism. In Communism or Socialism, sharing is done at the point of a gun. In a gospel-centered church, sharing is done because of the Holy Spirit’s work in people’s hearts. When we have the same Spirit working in all of our hearts, we can’t help but to be unified.
Is your church unified in its mission of love?
If we are not careful, all of the good that our churches do can actually lead to their undoing. We must remember that our ultimate goal is to make disciples for the glory of Christ, not one particular passion of one member.
It’s happened before. Churches split because the Help the Orphans Crowd feels as though they’re being slighted by the Feed the Homeless Crowd. While we all have our different passions, we must remember that they fall under the main heading of the glory of Christ and the growth of his people.
Notice what happened as a result of this unity. The church grew. More people got saved. People get enough fighting and divisiveness at work and on the Internet. Why would they want to come to church for more of it?
When our churches look like the one we see in this week’s passage, people stop and take notice.
In a faithful church, there doesn’t have to be a sign our front. The people are the sign.