A Christlike Church

Colossians 3:9-17

D.L. Moody is credited with this statement: "There is one thing I have noticed as I have traveled
in different countries.
I have never known the Spirit of the Lord to work where the people are divided.
There is one thing that we must have if we are to have the Holy Spirit of God working in our midst,
and that is unity
."

At the beginning of creation, God made the statement: "It is not good that man should be alone." (Genesis 2:18)
Since the advent of time, each person has been created for fellowship with God and with people.
Emotionally, physically, and spiritually – it is not good for man to be alone.

A. J. Cronin, a medical doctor and novelist wrote,
"Loneliness not only brings sorrow tomorrow – it saps today of his strength."

Uprooted by two world wars and other wars that have followed, and bewildered by a constantly shifting society
that tends to delete moral values; modern families are continually transferred from city to city
and change houses almost as often as they do cars.
One out of every 5 families in the United States will move this year, and they need to be a part
of a New Testament Christian family called the church.

Old family trees and social securities are changing.
People have lost their identity in a rootless mobility, in the "anonymous living" in huge apartment complexes
and condominiums and in the isolation of suburbia.

Is it any wonder that alcohol and drug addiction are rising faster among housewives
trying to drown out their loneliness.
Is it any surprise that the problem is compounded by baffled and bewildered people who are searching
for a light out of the darkness, a love out of their gnawing, aching pains of loneliness?

In a world grown weary of superficial "togetherness," the Church of Jesus Christ much dare to offer people
a new kind of abiding togetherness, a winsome fellowship of people who are loved in spite of their sins,
unlovingness, and weakness.
We can do this because of the love of Jesus Christ.

Listen to God's message in Philippians 2:1-2:
"If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit,
if… mercies, fulfill ye my joy, that ye be like-minded, having the same love,
being of one accord, of one mind
."

The duties of the Christian life cannot be borne in isolation.
Its privileges cannot be enjoyed in solitude.
The New Testament life requires fellowship with God in Christ Jesus and with other Christians.

The word translated, "church", in the New Testament means "a united fellowship."
This union is not static – it must be dynamic.
Christ is the Creator, the cornerstone, and the King of His church.

Members must develop a closer union with our divine Redeemer so that when they walk, they walk with Christ.
When they talk, they talk with Christ.
When they give, they give to Christ.
When they live, they live with Christ.

The Scripture points out three bonds of union for our fellowship in Christ.
Those three bonds are a comfort, a companion, and a cause.

The first is called the comfort of "love."

New Testament love has always been God's way to intertwine the hearts of people.
In the Christian fellowship, we discussed with each other, plan with each other,
and pray with each other and share the love of Christ.

Christ invites us to "Come now and let us reason together." (Isaiah 1:18)
If a member thinks that every deed done in the church will be absolutely perfect,
then he is hanging onto a twig that will snap and fall into the dirt.
The church is composed of imperfect people, and mistakes may occur.
But we need to remember that no mistake needs to be malicious, and none needs to be intentional.

Underneath and surrounding every act must be the spirit of the love of Christ.
In the warm and gracious fellowship of the church of Jesus Christ, there is no place
for malicious gossip, arrogance, or a judgmental attitude.

Adlai Stevenson once said, "He who slings mud always loses ground."

If, we, as church members, will be patient and understanding with each other,
we can carry out any service for Christ.
One of the main missions of the church is to dispel the bad in the state of the world
and replace it with a good and pure love of God.

Dr. H. A. Ironside told a story about a Bible conference.
A small Christian group which felt that it was the only church was having a convention.
Outside the auditorium they displayed a motto, "Jesus Only."

The first night there was a storm outside, and the wind blew away the first three letters of the sign.
The amazing thing was that the particular group liked what was left so much that they did not change it
during the convention. It read, "Us Only."

Needless to say, it was only a few years after that this religious group disbanded.

Anytime any congregation think it has arrived, that it is only "Us," and that it does not
work together for Christ, then it has taken the road to death.
Every member has a job to do, and unless he does that job and cooperates
with the other members the church will suffer, despair, and diminish.

"Said a selfish old bee at the close of day,
This colony business doesn't pay,
I put my honey in the old hive
That others may eat and live and thrive
And I do more in a day, you'll see,
Than some of these others do in three!"

"So the old bee flew to a meadow lane,
And started a business all her own.
She gave no thought to the buzzing clan,
But was all intent on her selfish plan."

"But the summer waned and the days grew drear.
And the lone bee wailed as she dropped a tear
And the animals gobbled up her little store,
And her wax played out and her heart grew sore.
So she winged her way to the old home band.
And took her meals at "the helping hand."

A second bond of unity is the living companion – "the Fellowship of the Spirit."

What a glowing assurance it is to know that a Christian never needs to enter an empty room
or travel in solitude.
We can tread the longest path without loneliness, and speak for the living Savior in the power
of His living Spirit.

When we gather as the church -- as the soldiers of the cross, we stand united in our love of Christ,
and we commune with the all-powerful Spirit of the Living God.

In the New Testament Church it is exciting to discover a comfort, the love of Christ;
a companion, the living Spirit of Christ; and third, a dynamic cause
– and that is leading people to Jesus Christ.

God's mercy has brought redemption in mercy to each one of us.
Paul wrote, "I beseech you… by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice,
… which is your reasonable service
." (Romans 12:1)

it is not optional as to whether a Christian should witness or not.
Every person who experiences the grace of God is set apart as a sacrifice to serve,
and to lead people to Jesus Christ.
He or she may be a candle or a 1000 watt bulb, but he and she is a witness.

Some years ago my pastor spoke about a man named, Mel Trotter.
He was a world-famed evangelist who led hundreds of people in Chicago to put their faith in Jesus Christ,
but have you ever heard of how hard it was to win Mel Trotter to Jesus Christ?

Mel's second baby died because, Mel, his father neglected him and was usually away from home
in a drunken stupor.
Trotter returned to the house for the funeral – not because his heart was soft and,
and not because he was crying tears of repentance and remorse – Mel Trotter returned for his baby's funeral,
so he could steal his own baby shoes and sell them so he could buy more booze.

And yet this same hardhearted-drunkard, Mel Trotter, had a friend who prayed for him,
and told him about Jesus, persuaded him that Jesus Christ had the power to forgive,
and to save him, and to keep him, and to kindle a sacred flame of right living
in any person's heart – even his.

Mel Trotter used to say, "I had the deafest ears, the hardest heart of any man in Chicago,
my one friend prayed for me, and told me about Jesus love on the cross,
it broke my heart and mended my life, and now I belong to Jesus
."

Thanks be under God for Christian witnesses!

J. Winston Pierce related this colorful story.
The Dean of women at Stetson University in Florida had reached the age of 49, and was still single.
One day she was returning to the campus in the late afternoon to park her car,
and she noticed that a student had parked his car in her reserved parking space.

The student was sitting in his car, and a pretty coed was with him.
He had his arms around the girl shoulder, and they were just staring out into space.

And you can imagine the absolute disgust that passed over that pretty little coed's face
when the Dean of women drove up beside them, stuck her head out the window, and asked,
"Pardon me, my dear, but cannot change places with you?"

There is a mission urgently needed today.
No one can take your place in it, and that path is the strengthening of the fellowship
of the New Testament church.

What united the early New Testament church into a fellowship can unite a church today.
The dynamic unity of the early New Testament church was not that the people looked alike,
acted alike, or even talked alike in every case; it was that the people loved alike.
They loved the Lord Jesus Christ, and therefore, they could love one another.
They had a common allegiance to the Lord and to His church.

A husband and wife had been married for five years.
They had fought, fussed, and fumed almost every day of those years.

One day they had been screaming at each other for an hour when the wife suddenly stopped,
marched over to the window and poked out her bottom lip in a pout.
The husband kept yelling for another 5 minutes before he ran down.

Then he walked over to stand behind his wife, and he glanced out the window,
and saw two horses pulling a heavily loaded wagon up the hill.
The horses would slip back a bit, then they would pull together and make progress up the hill.

The husband said, "Dear, look at those two horses working together and going forward together.
Why can't we be like that
?"

Without changing her pout for a moment the wife replied, "Because one of us is a stubborn mule."

Shifting the blame to someone else, being hypersensitive, wearing our feelings on our sleeves,
being quick to criticize and slow to admit mistakes, choosing sides – not by what is right,
but by whom is right – by personalities rather than by issues, taking the shortsighted
rather than the farsighted view of the plans of Jesus Christ for His church, saying in effect:
"My mind is made up, don't confuse me with the facts."

Many of these attitudes are like sand in the motor, like square pegs in round holes
-- impediments to progress and happiness and power of the Church of Jesus Christ.

We are called upon to make occasions to make friends for Christ, and we must look
for the best in the other person.
Jesus Christ, our Lord, looked for the best and brought out the best in the other person.
Jesus challenges them to do the best that they could for Christ.

We must take occasions to make friends and look for the best in the other person
as Christ looks for the best in the us.
We must also be willing to lend a helping hand.

This is the core of the Christian faith.
The God of the universe saw us struggling and sinning, and He extended His hand to us in Jesus Christ.
Jesus Christ extended His hand to us even from the cross, and we as His servants must be willing
to extend a helping hand to those in need.

We have the privilege to work and pray and witness in the greatest cause in all the world,
and that is leading people to Jesus Christ.

Where shall we begin?
Right where we are with the people where we are.
Children can be led to Christ in these days, and how important it is that child will come
to know Jesus Christ early in life.

Richard Baxter, one of the greatest pastors and preachers that England has ever seen,
was converted at the age of six, not sixty.

Jonathan Edwards call the greatest thinker that America's ever produced
became a Christian at the age of seven.

Isaac Watts, who wrote some of the greatest hymns in the English language such as,
"When I survey the wondrous Cross," came to the Lord Jesus to the age of nine.

Henry Drummond, the British Scottish chemist and preacher, came to the Lord Jesus Christ
at the age of nine.

Children can be led to Christ, and thereby they will receive the greatest blessing
that they will ever have on the face of this earth.

Adults can be led to Christ.
I know of incidents where people 30, 40, 50, and older trusted Jesus, and was baptized.
Every Christian has been called upon to share this great salvation with others.
We must be unified in our Christian fellowship as we lead others to the Lord Jesus Christ
who is "the way, the truth, the light." (John 14:6)

Sermon adapted from several sources by Dr. Harold L. White