Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Gathering Exists for the Going

By Dave Black

Another good reminder this morning from Eric Carpenter that we gather for mutual edification, not for worship (worship is 24/7). But why mutual edification? I put it this way to my students: The gathering exists for the going. The commission of our Lord which comes upon every believer must be given highest priority (Matt. 28:19-20). This means that, as important as mutual edification is, we must put top value upon God's agenda for the church. There's nothing wrong in coming together to be mutually strengthened ... unless it keeps us from reaching our town and our world for Christ.

We err when we place too much emphasize on the gathering. "Don't greet anyone on the way" was how Jesus put it to His disciples. The Lord had a clearly defined mission for His followers. He had told them what to do and where to go. Now He's telling them not to get involved in anything that might detract from that mission. And -- please listen to me carefully -- even good things can do that. It's called the principle of priority.

The mission of the church is to point others to Christ. The calling of every Christian is to build redemptive relationships. So, having been edified during the meeting, do we feel ready to flow into a web of relationships and network them for Christ? If not, there is something wrong with the gathering!

Evangelism is the missing link in so much discussion about ecclesiology today. God's redemptive plan is at the top of His priority list, and each of us is privileged to have a part. How do we get to that place? First, make a definite commitment to be a Great Commission Christian. Second, have faith that God will use the witness of your serving lifestyle to win the lost. Finally, don't give up! Bathe the lost in prayer. Ask God for boldness and open doors. Develop a gift-driven life. Target receptive individuals.

Friends, think about it. Our involvement with church activities does not always lend itself to becoming redemptive people. In fact, it is even possible that our "mutual edification service" is actually an escape mechanism to avoid real involvement in the world as salt and light. Here's the principle: God sows saints (edification) in order to cultivate, sow, and reap (evangelism). You are the message. No one will receive Christ through you who does not first receive you. Our attitude, our whole demeanor, will be different if deep in our hearts we expect God to use us in His great harvest!

The gathering exists for the going. Got the point?

There are millions of lost sheep out there. We're sent to find them. This involves risk. It involves leaving our little happy holy mutually-edifying huddles and getting our hands dirty in the world.

Known for his love for New Testament Greek and passion for teaching, Dave Black is a husband, father, professor, author, preacher, lecturer, web journalist, and (above all) a sinner saved by God’s sovereign grace. You can find out more about Dave and read more of his articles and blog post on his website: http://daveblackonline.com
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