Finding Hope in the Church

Have you watched the news lately? I can’t say that I blame you if you haven’t. There really is nothing but bad news these days. Whether it’s ISIS or Ebola, it seems like civilization is going to Hell in a hand basket.

And with the renewal of the euthanasia debate in recent weeks, the faces of hopelessness have become even more real. In Oregon, one dear person–someone made in the image of God–chose to take her own life this week instead of enduring the painful duration of brain cancer.

I cannot imagine being in her shoes for even a second. But it’s clear that hopelessness has become the rule of the day.

Is there a better time than now for the Church to rise up and declare there is hope?

Perhaps the greater question is, can the Church rise up and declare the hope of the gospel?

In Colossians 1, the Apostle Paul begins to reveal his ministry to the church at Colosse. Paul wrote the letter from prison after hearing that the Colosse church had begun to believe a mixture of false doctrines. Among those beliefs was the heresy of gnosticism.

The Gnostic belief that reduced the role of Jesus from Saviour to just another source of knowledge, had quickly distracted believers in Colosse.

To this attitude, Paul asserted that God was using him to make known the full message of Christ–a message that was hidden in mystery to the Colossians because of their mostly Gentile background and their drift back into heresy.

Paul said the key to the mystery is “Christ in you, the hope of glory (Col. 1:27).”

What we have then in Colosse is a church in which Jesus had become a lesser thing. Christ was now just another means of knowledge unto salvation, rather than the hope of all the world.

It was a church that had become just like its surrounding culture.

Sound familiar?

Could it be that the world is hopeless because much of the church has become hopeless in our day?

Is the Church in America merely an empty shell in today’s culture?

The Church with Jesus Christ at its head is still the hope of the world.

Where Jesus is still the central theme, there’s still hope. Where His Lordship is still celebrated, there’s still hope.

Pastor, if Jesus has become a lesser thing in your sermons, your worship, and your everyday walk, please put Him back where he belongs.

The hopeless world cannot afford to have a hopeless church in this day.

Joel A. Barker is a worship pastor, minister of the Gospel, blogger and church-planter-in-training from Chattanooga, Tennessee. Follow his Kingdom Voice Ministry blog at joelabarker.com.

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The Church: Being the Hands and Feet or Sitting in the Seat?

Sunday morning has come and gone for now. Don’t worry, though. You’ll get another opportunity next week. Chances are that seat is really comfortable. It’s likely right in the middle of your comfort zone. No pressure. No work. No hassle. Just come and enjoy the show for a little while.

No doubt that is the definition of Christianity for some.

While I’m thankful that those of you who hold to that view are at least hearing the Word preached, I want to challenge you to broaden that perspective.

I’m churchy, man. I’m more churchy than Noah was arky. But if Sunday morning is the central focus, what happens in my church Monday thru Saturday? Does it cease to exist as a force? If the Church is a living, breathing organism, what happens when the lights are out and the alarm is armed?

From a Kingdom perspective, the church building is just the rallying point. It’s the hub where you get energized to be the Church, not the destination where you merely have church.

In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul said “Ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.” Surely that was only for the leadership though, right? The pastor should be doing all that stuff while the rest of us spare parts count down the days from Sunday to Sunday. Not even hardly.

Think about what Christ did in His earthly ministry. He ministered to the poor. He mended the brokenhearted. He set captive people free. He healed. He saved. He delivered. He preached good news. And nowhere in the Gospels does Jesus tell His followers that all that stuff should stop as soon as He leaves.

As a matter of fact, John records Jesus saying, “He who believes in me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do (John 14:12 NKJV).”

The only qualifying statement Jesus made about who would do these works was “whoever believes in me.” He didn’t say, “Only those who go through seminary” or “those who lead churches”. That covers everyone who believes, from the pew-warmer to the pastor, and from the church-goer to the choir leader. Jesus was talking about the Church.

The Church has the hands that serve the community. It has the feet that carry the Gospel and the eyes that burn with passion for souls. That is the Church–the body of Christ.

I know it’s easier to sit in the Sunday seat inside the building we call “church”. And it’s certainly more comfortable.

Being the hands and feet of Jesus is what we are called to. Let’s get busy being what we’re supposed to be–the Church.

Joel A. Barker is a worship pastor, minister of the Gospel, blogger and church-planter-in-training from Chattanooga, Tennessee. Follow his Kingdom Voice Ministry blog at joelabarker.com.