Know Any "Good" Churches?
What makes a good church? Good preaching, outstanding musicians, awesome youth ministry, good coffee, multiple and short services? Maybe a good church is one that runs a soup kitchen for the needy, supports missionaries overseas, or has a partnership with a local crisis pregnancy center. You get the idea; all of those (ok, most of those!) can be good things. In 1 Peter 4:8-10 we get a glimpse into the kind of things the Apostle Peter was promoting in the scattered church meeting in suburban Jerusalem and beyond. Due to persecution they were getting scattered everywhere (which by the way, meant the Gospel of Jesus Christ was advancing!), and yet they were still coming together as God's people. Peter encouraged three things they could give themselves too, and in so doing, be a "good" church. They were to:
1. Love one another above all else – they were to be earnest in expressing their love for one another, even being willing to overlook offenses.
2. Practice hospitality – that sounds nice, but apparently they were tempted to grumble about it at times…just like us. For them it likely meant more than a meal; it meant having travelers spend the night.
3. Steward their spiritual gifts, time, talents and possessions for the good of others – as each part was doing its part the church would be built up.
All of this could only be accomplished with the strength God supplied, so that in everything God would be glorified. That is why we started our series on our need to be filled with the Holy Spirit! No group of Christians can build a "good" church without the Holy Spirit's power! So, dependent upon the strength the Holy Spirit supplies, how can we build a "good" church? How can we grow more and more into a local church where love, hospitality and stewarding all that we have is done generously, for the good of others, and for the glory of God? And you know what, friends? God is building a "good" church here at MLC, because so many of you are examples of what Peter describes. Of course Peter doesn’t think these three things alone are all that is needed, but where these three things abound in a local church as expressions of the Gospel's transforming power, that is going to be one healthy local church. We haven't arrived, and God has much more He wants to do in us and through, so lets keep "building!"