From the Pastor’s Heart
“It is the Church”
I planted roses a few years ago and tended them faithfully, and can I say they were beautiful. They were long stem hybrid roses and the plants were covered with brilliant roses all year. The second year, however; those same roses produced only one shoot, and those shoots came up from the root and not the stems. The bad part of planting hybrids’ is that they are normally two different kind of roses grafted together at the root, and if the shoots come off of the root and not the stems you are left with a common rose. I had to replace two of the roses and as soon as I could afford, it two more needed replaced. I ordered these roses by mail. The mail order roses had a one year warranty but the year was up so the warranty was up. The company simply promised that the rose would perform for a single year.
Many Christians that I have encountered remind me of those roses. I have seen so many Christians fail to produce fruits very long after their conversion, or if you prefer, after they were born again. You see most of us were converted to faith in Christ by a person who could only give us a limited warranty on their ability to help us maintain proper growth and performance. Some of you were convicted by the sermon of a television evangelist and you watch that person faithfully each time they are on. The difficulty is that most TV evangelists preach similar sermons; some just do a better job than others, so you were moved by their style of preaching.
Some of you were converted by an evangelist that came to your church and to this day you appreciate their ministry. The Holy Spirit used this person to harvest your soul for God, and you received His grace and forgiveness. Lastly, some of you were ministered to over a long period of time by a pastor who cultivated your soul with the Word of God and you received Christ during his or her ministry here inside the walls of your own church.
There is a problem with the longevity of their influence on your life however; these persons can only attend to your spiritual needs so long as they remain present in your life. Television Evangelist cannot help you to grow spiritually because they are not able to be with you, and they cannot have a personal relationship with those who watch them. These persons can offer no guarantee of your continued faithfulness or on your ability to produce fruits of righteousness.
The evangelist who came to your church who moved your soul towards God; they were simply used by the Holy Spirit to preach the message that moved you towards receiving Christ as your savior.
The pastor who presided over you, as a good shepherd should, blessed you one Sunday morning or evening and God‘s Spirit moved in your heart and you came forward and proclaimed your faith in Jesus and repented of your sins. Whether you received Christ at the altar or received salvation during your confirmation classes, you are one who said yes to God and He laid upon you the Grace of His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ and His blood cleansed you from all unrighteousness.
Ultimately, it is Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit that sustains us in our faith; however we are by creation a social being. Knowing this Jesus Himself gave birth to His Church, not for His benefit but for ours. His church was instituted for us to encourage each other in the faith. You see preachers come and go; they are able to put spiritual fertilizer around you and help to clear away the briers that try to overcome your faith, but they can only do that for a time and then they’re gone.
It is the church of God that encourages us and lifts us up in times of need. It is the church that cries with us and celebrates with us and empowers us to continue to bring forth fruits in our labor. The church is the one that continues to point us to God and pushes us forward to seek Him with heart, soul, mind, and strength. The church is the one that reminds us of our frailties and takes us by the hand to the altar for an ongoing renewal of repentance and forgiveness.
The true test of the church is determined by how well it is fulfilling the purpose of God’s Church. How many were sick and not visited? How many was suffering the loss of a loved one, and after the well intentioned went home, were left alone to suffer the longevity of their grief alone? How many are struggling in your faith and have no one to pray with you? How many need renewal but are not able to achieve it on your own and feel lost, because you’re afraid that if the church found out it would be spread throughout the town and in the end you would be more discouraged then before? How many do not believe that it is the churches job, or have learned not to expect the church to do such things. Friends, it is the church that has been ordained to fulfill all of these tasks; not out of duty, but out of love.
The only way the church can become a life giving refuge is by purifying ourselves, by letting God have His perfect will in our lives. That will entail going through the furnace just as the three Jewish boys did, (Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego). It may help you to understand the purification by fire.
When putting silver or precious mental through the smelter it is melted down and made into a liquid, while the silver or gold is in liquid the dross floats to the top and is skimmed off. The silver and/or gold are then allowed to cool and to harden. The smelting process begins again and again and again until all of the dross is removed and then it is purified and called pure gold or pure silver. Once a silver smith was asked, “How do you know when the silver is cleansed of all impurities,” and he responded, “When I can look down in the molten metal and see my reflection” Friends that is what God wants to do to us. God wants to continue to purify us until He can look at us and see His own reflection. We are the church of the living God and we have been called to ensure that all in our midst remain within the purifying process, and to meet one another’s need, in true love that comes through becoming more like Christ ourselves. Can we say here at the Emmanuel united Methodist Church of Carmi that there are none in our midst that are hurting and suffering or rejoicing without the support and care of our church? Wake up oh church of God, and bear fruits that are worthy of our God and bring glory to our LORD Jesus Christ!
In His Service,
Pastor Scott Baird