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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Raising the family of God to maturity

Joe Chase
North Loop Church of Christ
Gladewater, Texas.

We must be careful to be openhearted and minded when it comes to reaching
the lost. Far too often we feel greater compassion for people just like us
than we do for those who are different. The old adage seems true: "birds of
a feather flock together." Churches in the New Testament were diverse.
They had rich, poor, Jew, gentile, old, young every way possible for people
to be different; yet they found commonality in Christ.

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is
neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.
(Galatians 3:28)

Churches looked like their community. As diverse as their city was, so were
the people making up the church. This diversity brought struggle to the
church. Some problems grew out of prejudice against nationality and former
religion. The earliest congregation had to re-evaluate their benevolence
ministry because of the diversity of the congregation. It may have been for
a variety of reasons that the Greek widows were being left out. We don't
know for certain why. We only know that there were problems. Our
congregations will be no different.

Remember also that sinful people bring sinful ways with them into the
church. It is hard to bring people from fleshly to carnal. People don't
change overnight. So during the growth process we have to deal with a lot of
messes. Our role as church family is to help people grow up, grow strong
and mature to the point that they are strong enough to withstand the devil.

And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the
fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the
flesh. (Jude 1:22-23)

Our diverse people and problems call for diverse solutions. You fit into
the solution in a very unique and specific way. Just for example, if we had
a new sister in Christ who struggled with drug addiction, someone might have
to step in as caregiver for her children. Someone may have to arrange for
transportation to and from treatment facilities for her addiction. Some may
have to help fix legal issues brought about by her former lifestyle. On and
on the problems and solutions go. God is able to equip us unto every good
work. We are tools (Ephesians 2:10) to build up the body.

We cannot stand idly by while Satan wages war on a brother or sister in
Christ. Even though that person got themselves into their own mess. We
must do all we can to win those erring, sin-sick brethren.

Notice that the great commission is not "Go baptize everyone and they will
go to heaven." It is "Go make disciples, Baptize them, Teach them." Jesus
adds that when we do that he is with us.

We face a much bigger job than dunking folks in water. We are helping form
mature followers of Jesus. Taking them from sinful, ugly lives to godly,
beautiful ways of Christ. Be patient with people that are not like you.
Don't neglect people who are spiritually weak. Don't ignore the hard work
of raising the family of God to maturity.

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