When the Church Doesn't WorkActs 2:42-47
How the Church Works
February 15, 2015
The church only works when the people of Christ continue the work of Christ by the power of Christ. When the church is working properly, it is an unstoppable force. The book of Acts demonstrates this clearly. Acts 2:42-47 gives us a snapshot of what the first-century church in Jerusalem looked like. As this church began to grow and send missionaries throughout the entire Roman Empire, external opposition began to come against it. But whether it was a hostile government, demonic opposition, religious persecution, disease, or poverty, the church only grew faster. Acts teaches us a couple of important points. It teaches us that nothing outside the church can stop it when it is working properly. It also teaches us, however, that the greatest threat to the church comes from within. We concluded our series on “How the Church Works” by making one final, yet crucial, point: The only thing that can stop the church is the church itself. We see in the Jerusalem church three internal attitudes, diseases if you will, that will stop the church from working.
First, the church will not work when hypocrisy replaces humility. The sin of Ananias and Sapphira was the sin of hypocrisy; they were pretending to be someone they were not. Hypocrisy will destroy the effectiveness of a local church. One way this disease is manifested in a church is an unwillingness to share our struggles with other believers. Instead of obeying God’s command and allowing our brothers and sisters in Christ to walk with us through our struggles, we hide them for fear of what others will think. We pretend to be somebody we’re not. If a church is going to work properly, it must replace this hypocrisy with humility.
Second, the church will not work when self-centeredness replaces Christ-centeredness. This second disease threatens to stop the growing church in Jerusalem in Acts 6:1 when people were complaining about being neglected in the ministry to widows. Self-centeredness is manifested when our primary focus during the corporate gathering is on ways that the church service, programs, and people are not meeting our own preferences, expectations, and needs. You know you have this disease when your hunger for God is replaced by a frustration over your own preferences not being met. Self-centeredness must be replaced with Christ-centeredness. When our primary focus in gathering with the saints is to meet and feast upon Christ, then the structure, style, and strategy of the church, while it may not be what you prefer, will become secondary because despite these things you can meet with God.
Finally, the church will not work when apathy replaces passion. One of the keys to success for the Jerusalem church was passion. They did not organize ‘church’ (by which I mean the people and work of God in and through their local body) around their lives; they organized their lives around ‘church.’ They were devoted and passionate. “Apathy,” “complacency,” “a spiritual numbness that causes you just to go through mindless rituals,” whatever you call it, it will kill the church.
The only thing that will keep the church from working is the church itself. Our communities desperately need a church that works. We want to be that church; we can be that church, if we are working properly. Is there any attitude in your heart that will potentially keep the church from working? Let’s wage war against hypocrisy, self-centeredness, and apathy. Let’s be a church that works and see what God will do with us!
Community, Ministry, Sacrifice, Servanthood, Worship